Monday, December 24, 2012

"Merry Christ Mass!" or The Scandal of Christmas

On this, the Vigil of Christmas, Let me wish all of you a very blessed Christmas, or "Χmas" if you prefer to practice your Greek!.

I was reading through some comments on Facebook when I ran across this little gem. It's an exposition on the meaning of "Merry Christmas" from one of those groups that believes Christmas is a pagan holiday. It tells all about how the Eeeeeevil Catholics have tricked millions of "so-called 'Christians'" [sic] into blaspheming by being happy about the "pain, bleeding, suffering and death of Christ."

I can't wait to hear his exposition on "Good Friday."

Setting aside his misunderstanding of the theology of the Mass, he is still right to be shocked. On the very day which we celebrate Our Lord's wondrous incarnation, we call to mind His death.

We celebrate the birth of Christ with a Mass, wherein we are united by the sacrifice of the Mass with the sacrifice of Our Lord, hanging on the Cross.

The scandal is this: to ransom a slave, God the Father gave us His only Son. He was born to die for our sins, a spotless, unblemished, sacrificial lamb.

To have a Merry Christmas is to celebrate that Our Lord chose to humble himself that He might die for us as one of us. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).

So let us indeed Glory in the Cross which is the scandal of Christmas. Let us praise God, and give thanks that, knowing the pain He was to endure, Our Lord still loved us so much to take our form, to take the form of a slave, to come be our Emmanuel and rescue us.

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping,
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce him through,
The Cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
Come, peasant, king, to own Him!
The King of Kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him!
Raise, raise the song on high!
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy! joy! for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blessed are the Colt Model Ps?

Somehow I don't think that our lord was referring to the revolver when he said Blessed are the peacemakers...

Still, it is interesting that a device used to project slugs of metal at high velocity, usually with the intent of ripping holes in the human body so as to make it inoperable, should bear the title "Peacemaker."

The flippant answer is that gun manufacturers are merchants of death, and that it is simply clever marketing to instill a false sense of security for owners of their product, and a feeling of vulnerability in their target customer base. Perhaps there is even some truth to this.

However, I think it speaks to a sad but nonetheless true reality about this fallen world of ours. It is sometimes hard to remember that there is simultaneously room and a need for both Gandhi and Patton. Our Lord is typified as both the Lamb of God, and the Lion of Judah. To put it more eloquently, I turn to Chesterton:

The world did not lose the last charge of Sir James Douglas or the banner of Joan the Maid. And sometimes this pure gentleness and this pure fierceness met and justified their juncture; the paradox of all the prophets was fulfilled, and, in the soul of St. Louis, the lion lay down with the lamb. But remember that this text is too lightly interpreted. It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is--Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? THAT is the problem the Church attempted; THAT is the miracle she achieved.

There is a reason that Holy Mother Church has a doctrine of just self defense, and of just defense of others. There is a reason why She has a just war doctrine, which says that ultimately war should be avoided as much as is prudent, but sometimes the prudential solution is in fact to engage in bloodshed, for the betterment of mankind.

It has been said that fighting for peace is like fornicating for virginity, but I find myself dissatisfied by the sentiment. It sounds nice, rings well (especially among college students and the internet, where another term is often used in place of "fornicating"), but it is, I think, dissatisfying. Insert Godwin's-Law-Fulfilling comment about the U.S.A. stopping the Nazi war & death machine in World War II here.

I think that's about enough of the Nazis for one blog post, don't you?

I've taken a bit of a divergence, and would like to return to the scripture we started with:

Beati pacifici, quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur.

Blessed the peace makers (pax + facio: I make, arrange peace), for sons of God they will be called.

It is not the peaceful who are blessed, it is those who bring about peace. Our Lord does not specify how. I have another scripture which strikes me at the moment, John 2:14ff:

And he found in the temple them that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew.

An account of this event occurs in all four of the Gospels, in one form or another. Yes, it even occurs in the selfsame Gospel in which Our Lord delvers the 8 Beatitudes. The Son of God, who would himself be scourged and crucified, offering no resistance to those who sought His life, gets physically violent with those who are turning the temple into a marketplace.

To put it even a little more bluntly, read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal.
A time to destroy, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather.
A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to get, and a time to lose.
A time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew.
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
A time of love, and a time of hatred.
A time of war, and a time of peace.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I think the peacemaker was named correctly. Sometimes we must be both lion and lamb. In this fallen world, some are called to have the capacity for violence as a means for the imposition of justice, tempered by virtue and a true love of God an neighbor, such that we will only use it as a last resort.

Much like war is not the answer, neither is violence, though it may be necessary to curb the violence of those who will not listen to reason. If I may be so bold, there is even a place for the warrior in the Body of Christ.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

James on Parenthood

My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations; Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing. But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Bearing in mind that "divers temptations" refers to trials and tribulations, it is clear that James is talking all about parenthood. Yes, children are a blessing, and a joy, and a gift. That doesn't change the fact that a toddler doesn't particularly see the value in quietly sitting still for an hour, even if it is for the liturgy which gives us life.

Picture it. It's halfway through the homily. You still have the Creed, the Eucharistic Prayer, Eucharist, announcements, and the closing hymn. The toddler is fussy, fidgety, noisy. You haven't really been able to pay attention to the readings, let alone the homily, because the toddler is now attempting to distribute her snacks all over the floor for no apparent reason.

You're stressed, you're sure that everyone is looking at you, annoyed with you. (Side note, Spanish Mass is the opposite, every time we try to hush the small thing, all the abuelitas around us tell us not to worry, she's not bothering anyone. Reason #629 to stop being dumb about immigration: abuelitas!)

Then it happens. Everyone is kneeling for the consecration, and your baby girl kneels down too, folding her little hands. Or she turns to you and your spouse, telling you that it is time to pray, and making sure your hands are folded in the right way. Or she will be pointing excitedly at the altar calling, "Jesus! Jesus! Amen! Amen!" (Side note, our little on calls all priests "Amen," starting with pictures of our former pastor from when she was baptized).

Two things that help are words Our Lord said in the Gospel of Mark. Mark 2:27:

And he said to them: The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.
Mark 10:14b:
Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.

If I may be so bold, the sabbath was made for the toddler, and not the toddler for the sabbath.

It is hard sometimes, feeling like every eye is upon you, judging you. Feeling like you're not being fully present because you have to split your attention between the homily and the toddler, trying to absorb the lesson while trying to make sure the seats don't absorb all of her juice. But then He answers, "Suffer the little children to come unto me..."

The kingdom of God is of such as these, and who am I to be ashamed for bringing my child before the King? Would it be better for me to stay at home, and deprive her of the graces of Mass? Would it be better for us to sit as far back as possible so as to "not cause a scene," and yet thereby hinder her ability to become engaged in the liturgy?

It is not easy - as anyone who has ever at with us at Mass can attest to - but it is our responsibility, and with a little grace even our perfection.

And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Hey, I just logged on, and this is crazy, but I've got some free time, so blog post maybe?

It has been about 4 months since I last posted, a week after my son was born. New job, moving, new baby, travel, and life in general makes for a very full schedule! However, eventually things start to settle down, fall into patterns, and give me a little time to ruminate and post!

Nothing particularly profound for this one, though I'm prepping a few that take a peek at life the universe and everything. Should be fun. In the meantime, I will share some thoughts I've had on the upcoming election.

First, Steve King has an awesome campaign staff. He's been known to put his foot in his mouth a time or two, and his ad writers are managing to make that a positive. Amazing.

Secondly, did Christie Vilsak have some random washington-type write her commercials? That 7-layer salad bit was just dumb. It felt like something someone who has never been to Iowa thought would resonate with Iowans.

Third, I'm not particularly fond of Romney, but he's definitely running a much better campaign than McCain. Praise the Lord.

Fourth, is it just me, or does Obama's campaign sound a little like this?
I mean, really...

Fifth, when is Mr. President going to stop whining about everything he's inherited? The economy wasn't great, no argument, but it's gotten worse under his administration and policies. The prudence and success of Iraq and Afghanistan may be debated, but we are seemingly, the assassination of Osama bin Laden aside, no closer to any meaningful, peaceful resolution in either of those (despite his promises to end both wars). He has also managed to get us involved in at least one other military conflict that comes to mind. Mr. President, with all due respect you were elected to lead, not to whine. Your protestations ceased to be reasons and became excuses about two years ago, and are quite frankly beneath you.

Sixth, I think that rational adults can have a discussion on the pros and cons of a continued Obama presidency vs. a Romney presidency. However, I am really six of two things: the Republicans saying that it was "Romney's Time," as if he somehow deserved a turn running for president; and the Democrats saying that President Obama "deserves" another four years.

Let us get one thing straight: the presidency is earned, never deserved.

You may believe that Romney was the only potential candidate to take on the President, and you may even have been right (though I was really looking forward to Herman Cain, personally). But because it was his turn? Wrong.

You may believe that the country will be better off under another four years of President Obama as opposed to four years of Romney. There is a chance you are right, but it is not because the President "deserves" another four years.

I think that's it for now... I am really looking forward to being done with this election cycle.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The President and Homosexual Marriage

Hoo boy... Well, this will probably make unpopular with a number of people. As long as I tick people off on both sides I'm good, right?

As to our dear leader's recent statement that he is for the legalization of gay marriage:

He has a right to his opinion. Do I think he's wrong? Absolutely. However, it's not like this is a big shock to anybody, it's probably better that he not beat around the bush. That being said, will that be the new stick? Vote Obama or you're a homophobe? Who knows.

As to the rightness or wrongness of legalizing "homosexual marriage"... There are basically three positions I see in this issue: (1) Yes Gay Marriage is fine, legalize it; (2) no Gay Marriage is not fine, ban it; (3) the government shouldn't be dictating marriage laws, regardless of my opinions on Gay Marriage. Given the current government we have, this specific government, I am relatively (80~90%) convinced that three is the only tenable position to hold.

As to the first, the legalization of gay marriage has already driven the most successful institutions in the foster care industry out in many states (i.e. Catholic Charities). Legalizing gay marriage means that not fostering to homosexual couples is an illegal discrimination, forcing a religious institution to violate its tenants or get out. Yeah... We really want to be in that place again...

The second option is favored by many conservatives, but remember that one of the big reasons for the government to issue marriage licenses was to prevent interracial marriage. If we give the government it's head now and say that it has the right to dictate who can and cannot get married, what is to prevent an expansion of that in the future? More than that, given that some religions (e.g. certain brands of Mormonism) permit and even promote plural marriage, is that not prohibiting free exercise?

The third option is to my mind not ideal, but the best option that limits the scope of the government's power to interfere in out lives. Consider, if gay marriage was legalized, how long would it be before the Catholic Church (or protestant churches who consider homosexuality to be disordered) started to be attacked? How long before the law suits against Catholic (and other) business owners who weren't comfortable contracting for the marriage ceremonies of people whose marriages they considered unnatural?

How long before the government decides to start using marriage licenses as a carrot and stick in a bigger social engineering program?

No amount of legislation is going to prevent homosexual fornication, just as no amount of it has prevented heterosexual fornication. Laws are not the issue here: the sickness is in our culture, and it I'm not just talking about homosexuality.

But therein lies a major problem in what many conservatives seem to be arguing for, and the reason why they are so easily contradicted on this issue. While "tu quoque" (you too! - pointing out hypocrisy) is a fallacy and does not disprove an argument, holding a position while acting in a manner contrary makes you very unconvincing, and is like building on sand.

Conservatives have no room to decry "homosexual marriage" while they treat marriage in general with contempt and scorn. While they contracept their marriages, they have no foundation. While they live together and fornicate before marriage so that the wedding is a formality, they have no foundation. While they marry and divorce each other on a whim, treating it as no more binding that a junior high relationship, they have no foundation.

Our country needs a strong foundation, and that foundation is the family. The family has always been the foundation of society, it existed before society, and it will persevere through the dissolution of society. To be sure, the "homosexual marriage" movement threatens that foundation, and needs to be stopped. Unfortunately, it seems that most of the people arguing against "homosexual marriage" have been complicit in undermining that same foundation from which they are attempting to stop unnatural marriage.

Matthew 7:3-5

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Apparently Nigeria is Doomed

Wow. Just wow. This post starts the "Quid Gehenna?" tag, where I will put sundry issues that make me look like this:

I just read a rather discomfiting article over at Crisis Magazine. Take a sec, go read it so that we're on the same page, then get back over here for some musings.

Back already? Fantastic. Let's go.

So, I'm confused. Those accursed moderns have gone and befuddled me again. Apparently, voting against Barack Obama (The Promised One©®™) clearly means you must be racist (because he's black, and you noticed, didn't you, you racist, hate-mongering such and such!), but encouraging the entirety of Africa to curb its population (because apparently there are too many Africans? Or something? What?) is totally A-Okay.

Because that makes sense.

What's the real reason, New York Times (Hell's Bible©®™)?

Oh what's that you say? It's illegal immigration? It's that their are ~400,000 undocumented Africans living in America?

Whoa whoa whoa... Hold up. Aren't these the same people who are calling Republicans racist for having the audacity to believe that only citizens of the United States should be allowed to vote in elections of the self same constitutional, federated republic? Aren't these the same people who accuse anyone who even talks about having secure borders or any reform of immigration laws that aren't just amnesty racist hate mongers? The same people who don't bat an eyelash at over 11 million estimated undocumented immigrants already here from places other than Africa?

Just to recap our math, 11 million is 27.5 times 400,000.

Now, to clarify, you should really read what I think about immigration (legal and not) here. But the thing is, I don't think that this is really an immigration problem, and I don't think that the New York Times thinks it is either.

I can't help but feel that the article in question is a creepy revival of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick (a.k.a. A Modest Proposal), except that they forgot that Swift's work was a satire.

Get in my belly!!!

For those of you unfamiliar with the work, Swift's (modest) proposal was that to free themselves of economic woe, the Irish should sell their children as food for the upper classes. After all, there are too many mouths to feed, and not enough food. Makes sense, right?

Which brings us back to the New York Times article in question. The problem with satire, is that some poor fool will inevitably take you at face value and think to themselves, Say, I think he's on to something there...

I guess the only way to eliminate poverty and make sure that we don't overpopulate the planet is to get rid of the poor, right?

It takes a special kind of mental dishonesty to on the one hand criticize America and the West for its intrusion into other regions and countries, while on the other hand doing exactly the same thing in an effort to prevent... wait, what are we preventing? Oh that's right, non-white, "third world" babies who may grow up to be poor. Oh well, I guess I should be happy that the New York Times isn't suggesting we eat them.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

On Immigration

I. LOVE. Immigration.

My great grandmother (my mother's mother's mother) was born in Nebraska from parents who emigrated from Austria. I saw a scan of my great-great-grandfather's signature getting off the ship in New York City!!!

This country is a country of immigrants, was founded and built on the backs of immigrant labor and ingenuity. Immigration is fantastic!

I. LOVE. My. Country.

Quote all the Robert Frost you want, in a world where blood-thirsty thugs want to kill us and destroy our way of life, good fences make good neighbors.

Strict immigration policies that limit the influx of convicted criminals and those who would do us harm make us safer from those who thought that crashing airplanes into civilian targets was a good start.

Can these two beliefs coincide?

Yes, borders need to be secure, but we also need to respect the dignity of the person, and of the family. Neither our current immigration policy nor the draconian or laissez-faire alternatives most commonly proposed come even close to doing a good job of either, let alone both.

Is amnesty without change the answer? Massive deportation?

No, but our current quota-based system is inhuman, capricious, and cruel.

Illegal immigration is a problem. It is, and saying that it isn't doesn't make it go away, and it doesn't make the millions of undocumented immigrants go away either, nor does it help them get right with our laws so that they can have their shot at the American Dream.

So that we are all aware, I said what I meant. Immigration (act) can be illegal. Immigrants (people) can lack the proper legal documentation. Undocumented immigrants have committed illegal immigration. The current "'merica" label of "illegal immigrant," or "illegal alien" is nonsensical, and offensive. People can't be illegal.

So what are we to do? The vast majority of immigrants (legally here and not) are looking for the land of opportunity, the chance to make a better life for themselves and their families. On the other hand, our prisons house a mind-boggling number of felons who aren't even citizens - violent offenders, rapists, drug dealers, gang bangers, murderers, all of them here illegally. How do we protect ourselves while still being the land of opportunity?

I wish I had an easy answer. I don't know that there are any in this situation, but here is what I would pursue, were I in authority.

I. Secure the Border Our borders, northern and southern (yes, terrorists have snuck in through Canada) should be guarded. By the National Guard. That's what they're here for, right? To defend the homeland? Build walls, and fences, and well staffed crossing points and relatively frequent intervals.

II. Eliminate the Quotas There is no excuse to limit the number of people entering our country by some arbitrary bean-counting bureaucrat's quota. Not in my America. If we can't compete with immigrants who are playing by the same rules we are, then we need to step up the game.

III. Streamline the Paths to Citizenship Keep It Simple Stupid should be the motto of the naturalization process. Work visas, visitor visas, and easy paths to citizenship. Maybe start a sponsor system to farm out the work of keeping tabs on low-risk newcomers. Make military service a path to citizenship; go through basic training and serve 5 years in active duty, and you and your family are citizens (or at least fast-tracked). Die in combat and your family is granted citizenship. Worked for the Romans.

IV. Kick Out the Felons Why are we feeding and sheltering felons who aren't even citizens of this country? I can't say that every felonious crime deserves this (as I don't have the list of felonies memorized), but certainly violent crimes deserve a restart to square one.

V. Naturalize Those Already Here By the last count I saw, there are well over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. If the humane argument doesn't convince you (breaking up families &c.), then realize that pragmatically, there are too many people to kick out. We're in enough debt already, and many of those people are tax paying non-citizens (didn't know that, did you?). A fine, a slap on the wrist, restitution if they destroyed someone's credit through identity theft, and then path to citizenship.

Immigration is a complicated issue, to be sure, but not so complicated as to justify inhuman treatment. Thou shalt not molest a stranger, nor afflict him: for yourselves also were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Condescending King

I had a thought recently (well, many, but we'll stick with this one for now...) that being Catholic is a truly marvelous thing. The particularly beautiful thing to me right now is simple: perspective.

Perspective is important. In the old parable of the four blind men and the elephant, none of the men knew the whole picture - they didn't have perspective. They were caught in the immediate and the immanent, and so the big picture was lost to them. How easy it is to fall into the same trap, and would that being Catholic were enough to inoculate and defend against it! Yet today I am grateful for one particular perspective which the Catholic Church offers, and has offered for two millennia.

The film Dogma1 popularized the statue of "Buddy Christ," whose disarming grin and winning thumbs up grace the top of this post. This statue was introduced in the movie to revamp the Church's image, to be more hip and modern. It also seems to be the icon of "new" christianity. Smile! Jesus loves you! Everyone's okay just as they are, and don't you dare judge anything they do because Jesus said judging was bad, and that's just who they are and Jesus loves everyone!

There's a wishy-washy component to much of "modern" Christianity (conservative and progressive alike) which can tend to see Christ almost exclusively in His humanity, or as a good teacher. There are some (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) who go so far as to allow Christ to be in some way equated to Mohammed or the Buddha - prophets and teachers. I even heard a regularly Mass-going Catholic state that Jesus's purpose for coming to the world was to teach.

The thing is, there's a scandal in christianity. There's a deep dark secret that we are so ashamed of, that we don't talk about because it makes us nervous around our hip friends. Jesus isn't like the Buddha. Jesus isn't like Mohammed. He is not some really good man who said very holy things and lived a holy life and was nice to everyone.

He. Is. God.

But Jeremiah, "You call me Rabbi, and Lord, and rightly so..."
Yes, I know.
My problem with this thought, this simplification to the Good Teacher is not so much that it is wrong about His teaching, but that it fails to give us the proper perspective.

So the challenge is this: Is your Christ a friend who happens to be King, or a King who has stooped down to become one with you?

The reason that the Catholic Church builds beautiful Cathedrals, Basilicas, Shrines, and Grottos, the reason why she captures the history of salvation in gorgeous stained glass to make it accessible to the illiterate, the reason why she commissions statues and icons and paintings and music, is because we have a condescending God King. Condescension - "with to come down."

We sacrifice,
build beautiful temples to His glory,
bow down and kneel before Him,
because this... ...became this... ...for the sake of a slave.

That Jesus Christ is King of the Universe is undeniable, and may every knee in heaven, on earth, and below the earth bend, and let the earth tremble in the presence of her King.

That Jesus Christ is the intimate friend and brother of any and all who come to Him is undeniable, and what a friend we have in Jesus! What a kinship, that we should be adopted into His family!

But is He friend first, or king first?

It matters.

[1] Dogma (1999) - a horrible waste of your time and money which flirts with humor occasionally. I have watched it. Once. With jaw clenched, and muttering, "this is so wrong, this is so wrong... Why didn't they get any of this right?" pretty much the entire time. Seriously, the only part I haven't forcibly blocked from my mind is the scene wherein the angel of death kills an entire boardroom of executives, with the sole survivor being the secretary, who is the only one innocent enough to not deserve death. He then almost kills her for not saying "bless you" when he sneezed. I thought that was hilarious. The rest of the movie is garbage as far as I'm concerned.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Day Called Good

Ecce lignum crucis,
in quo salus mundi pependit.

Venite adoremus!

Behold the wood of the cross
on which the salvation of the world was suspended.

Come, let us adore!

Today, our Lord dies. He is put to death by the Jewish Sanhedrin, the Roman Governor, and Our Sins.

Today, we enter the tomb.

Today, consummatum est.

Good Friday is the only day of the year on which Mass is not said. Our reflection, more so than usual, is upon a cruel instrument of torture, a gracious instrument of salvation.

For Christians, it's all about Easter, the Resurrection. But the resurrection is in some ways the most normal thing that happens in the Triduum. Of course God rises from the dead, didn't He say He could take up His life again? The mystery, the moment, is today.

The mystery is that God dies.

We stand at the foot of the cross tonight with Mary, his mother - our mother now. We gaze upon Him whom they have pierced - whom we have pierced. We flinch at the awful reality of the price of our sins - the price of our salvation.

Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Cum ergo accepisset Iesus acetum dixit
consummatum est
et inclinato capite tradidit spiritum.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Eternity of Mystery

Tonight, all over the world, Catholics will experience a profound paradox. The same one we've been experiencing all Lent, in fact.

For 40 days, we have been waiting for our Lord. Tonight begins the sacred Triduum, the grand Three Days which are the culmination of the liturgical year. Tonight begins three days of mystery which culminates in the holiest night of the year: the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.

Tonight is celebrated the Last Supper, the Institution of the Eucharist and of the Priesthood. Tonight we hear these words from 1 Cor. 11:23-26:

Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
Tonight we do...

...what we do every Sunday, every day even, at Mass.

What is it that we do? When the priest celebrates the Mass, he is actually going through the Triduum. He begins with the last supper, "This is my body, this is my blood..." From there we experience the crucifixion and death, the breaking of the body, until we are brought at last to the "Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi." Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world, in which the priest reunites the fractured host, elevating it with the Chalice, reuniting the Body and the Blood as we are brought again to the Resurrection.

All through Lent, we have been celebrating that for which we have been waiting.

Tonight, we shall celebrate that mystery into which we are entering.

That night, Our Lord's sacrifice at table was unified to the suffering which he was yet to begin, and they partook of His glorified body, which in time He had not yet attained. Every moment is the Lord's, present to Him simultaneously in eternity which is reflected in the way that even in the penitential season of Lent, we celebrate the feast of victory.

May this Triduum help us to experience more deeply the Mass, that every time we attend it may be for us another Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Speaking

I had a thought the other day (and by other day I mean other week, back when it was cold) that I have been meaning to share.

I have been participating in the local 40 Days for Life campaign, with an earlier-morning shift before my classes and work start. Being ostensibly winter in Iowa, there were a few days in which it was in fact a bit chilly. I may be a native (more or less), but that doesn't mean I don't bundle up when there's snow on the ground!

It's amazing how much less
scared of you people are when
you are carrying a child...

So there I was, praying my rosary as I walked back and forth in the "L" that comprises the public sidewalks in front of our local Planned Parenthood, with my scarf and the collar of my middle layer up to keep my neck and face warm. It was actually rather pleasant, as I am half-German and therefore exothermic to a high degree. But the thing was, I couldn't see anything.

As you will have no doubt noticed from my profile picture, I am indeed a four-eyes. As those of less-than-stellar ocular capacity can attest to, condensation is the enemy of a good time when one is wearing glasses. One stray moisture-laden breath, and your cold glasses also just became 95% opaque. Fantastic.

The funny thing is, that doesn't happen when you're not trapping your breath close to your face. My glasses were only fogged over when I was speaking down, worried about warmth. When I raised my head, my glasses cleared, and I could see.

Our own voice, muttering to ourselves, clouds our sight, even if we're saying the right things.

The Word of God, spoken in charity to the world and seeing the people around you is sight.

Muttering to ourselves just builds up our sense of worth. I'm just so right, why can't they see it? Well, maybe they'd see it if it wasn't about you being right, but rather it was about you making the truth plain and manifest to their reasons.

Or maybe the truth they need to see is someone who is joyful about their vigil. Someone who is in awe at the beautiful day, grateful for his freedom and his life, smiling and genuinely joyful in greeting to everyone he passes, whether they smile or frown, wave or shake their head, acknowledge him or avoid eye contact.

Mine is the joyful endurance. Mine is the calm assurance. Mine is the peaceful certainty. Mine is contentment in Him who wins all victories for His beloved.

All it took was for me to stop muttering to myself, and to raise my head in prayer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Second Luminous Mystery

He Who revealed Himself at the wedding feast of Cana
The Wedding of Cana

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.

When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." (And) Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come."

His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you."

Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it.

And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now."

Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

Typical of John, there are many different things going on here, such as the way that to the Greeks (this gospel was written in Greek), water connotes humanity, while wine connotes divinity. There is also of course the blessing of marriages here by the fact that not only is Christ present, but He is in a sense "the life of the party," and of course this passage pretty much trashes any claim that drinking is un-Christian. How much bigger of an endorsement for drinking (in the proper place and time - i.e. together in celebration) could there be?

What really strikes me when I read this, though, is the special focus given to Mary. This is the last time she speaks in the Gospel of John, but how profound is this? Mary is seemingly ignoring her Son (whom she knows to be the Messiah, the Son of God), and riding roughshod over His objection. What audacity in a mere mortal!

This should be a wake up call to the extreme importance that Mary holds in the life of Jesus. Recall that in Matthew 5:17f, He clearly states that He has come, "not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it," and assures us that "not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place." Recalling the 4th commandment and that Mary is indeed His mother, then by His own law the eternal 2nd Person of God honors His mother.

By giving Mary the gift of His Only-Begotten Son, the Father shares His Fatherhood with Mary, gives her a unique relationship - no one else will physically give birth to God, to literally be His mother. In leading her to initiate Christ's earthly ministry, God shows us the profound love He has for this woman. Let us be clear, God did not need Mary, Jesus could very easily have started His earthly mission on His own - He is GOD. However, Mary is allowed to exercise her motherhood, and gives us one of the simplest and yet most difficult instructions to living the Christian life:

Do whatsoever He tells you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

War is not the answer!

Axiomatically, my dear Watson!

Time for my own version of shock and awe: I agree wholeheartedly and without reservation with the title of the post.

...though probably not for the reasons you are expecting.

Yep, I said it, war is awful. I hate it, it is an abomination, and is quite simply not the answer.

And that's the problem.

Bumper stickers are great for sloganeering, but not so much on actual thought, and this particularly popular bumper sticker suffers from that lack. Specifically, no rational person disagrees with this statement!

Whoa whoa whoa, Jeremiah, are you saying that the Pope was not rational in calling the first Crusade to defend Christians in the Holy Land? Are you saying that the U.S. had no rational minds involved in the prosecution of World War II and the defeat of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperialist Japan?

No. Because most of them didn't think war was the answer either.

Pretty much...

Okay, enough beating around the bush, let me talk plainly as bumper stickers cannot.

The problem: ∫Log(7)*7x dx1≤x≤2

The answer: 42

The solution:

  • ∫Log(7)*7x dx1≤x≤2
  • = 7x1≤x≤2
  • = 72 - 71
  • = 49-7
  • = 42

Yes, Jeremiah, we all know you're brilliant and an engineer and had to take Calculus I, II, & III, as well as Differential Equations, we're all awfully impressed.

Good, you should be.

But my point is if I was assigned that as homework and all I turned in was "42" (unless by some miracle the professor forgot to write "show all work" on the assignment... HA!), I would get precisely 0 on the assignment, because I gave an answer, but what was required was a solution.

The answer is like the goal, or the destination, while the solution is the map that tells us how to get there. Which is of course why only the foolish think that war is the answer, because only the foolish and evil desire war for its own sake.

What is not addressed in the bumper sticker philosophy is quite simply that sometimes that map leads through a dark valley, even the valley of the shadow of death, if you will. Because of our fallen nature, there are times when the only way to reach peace is by waging war against those who will not allow it. There are times when the only solution that does more good than harm involves incapacitating the belligerents, and someone has to do that pacifying.

This is why the Church in her wisdom gives us the Just War Doctrine. Catholic Answers has a writeup up that goes to some depth both in scripture and catechism to explain what the Church teaches, why, and how it is to be applied. It is a good read, and frank if brief regarding America's failures.

It's kind of a hard read when you realize how often our nation has violated those tenants, going to war without good reason, or persecuting the war in an evil manner. Even when our cause is just, there are still many many ways in which we betray justice in the war. If America really wants that place as the shining city on a hill, if she really wants to say that her way is better than Nazism, Socialism, Fascism, Communism, Imperialism, and Terrorism, then she better be acting like it. That our foes have been more vile in war does not justify our injustice.

The long and short of it is that whether it is an accurate quotation or not, war is indeed hell. It should be avoided at great cost, and all other legitimate options exhausted. However, peace is our aim, and not just peace which is the absence of violence, but peace with is the presence of justice. Sometimes the only way to achieve that peace is to remove the ability to wage war from those who would do evil.

War. Never the answer. Unfortunately, sometimes a part of the solution.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Into the desert... alone?

Everyone knows the hymn "Lonesome Valley."

Jesus walked this lonesome valley.
He had to walk it by Himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself.

We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.

v You must go and stand your trial,
You have to stand it by yourself,
O, nobody else can stand it for you,
You have to stand it by yourself.

Now, I'm not denying that the end of the day, you must stand before your maker, and that you yourself are responsible to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, as Paul says. But the path to judgement is not one we walk alone.

No, no one else can walk our path for us, but is not the point of the Church, is not the point of salvation itself that we are not walking alone? Take my yoke, for it is easy, and my burden is light. The yoke binds a team of oxen together, and the Yoke of Christ binds us to Him, and bound to Him we are bound to each other.

Jesus Christ, being God, was always in the beatific vision. He was with the Father and the Spirit through the entire course of His earthly life - He does not say, "I and the Father were one," but "I and the Father are one."

We must make this Lenten journey for ourselves, but we are not by ourselves. The 2,600+ people at all the Masses in my parish yesterday should make that clear. But more than that, even when we flee to the solace of quiet and solitude, God is there! We are not alone in this journey, we are strengthened by our brothers and sisters, by our mother the Church, and most importantly by Our Lord Himself.

For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Elegance of Symmetry

There are three descriptors of God typically used, especially when one is about to bring up the argument against God from evil. While I argue that the list is non-exhaustive, it is widely accepted that these are sine qua non for the traditionally understood "god":

  • All Good - Omnibenevolent
  • All Knowing - Omniscient
  • All Powerful - Omnipotent

All knowing gets flack as being apparently opposed to free will (which is is not), and all powerful gets thrown the sophomoric questions such as, "could God create a rock so heavy He couldn't lift it?" But that is nothing compared to the confusion that surrounds the nature of Good.

There is an (incorrect) notion floating around that good and evil are just words, just terms. They are not absolute indicators, but relative statements of opinion, conditioned by society et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam. There are a number of problems with this, but for the time being I want to instead state a positive case in support of the traditional Catholic understanding of evil as a privation of good.

This point comes from symmetry, specifically the symmetry between these three descriptions of God.

First, Power, or Potency. From Latin potens - the ability to do something. The opposite of potency is not anti-potency. It's not like there's some mysterious condition where you perform negative work on a situation such that what happens is in direct opposition to what was intended. This isn't anti-potency, but rather misdirected potency. The opposite of capability is incapability, a lack of potency, impotence.

Second, Knowledge. Again, the opposite of knowing a thing is not to know the wrong thing, but to know nothing. There is no anti-knowledge, but lack of knowledge masquerading as knowledge. You either know or you don't - "knowing" a falsehood means that you don't actually know.

Before I go into good vs. evil, take a look at the thermometer, and keep it in mind as a descriptor while I go into a physical analogy. Temperature is referred to as hot vs. cold, but they're generally considered to be completely relative. However, it is similarly a zero-to-infinity scale - there is such a things as the coldest possible, though the same is not true on the upper end.

So it is with good. Evil is not "anti-good," but a lack of good. It is defect or lack, not something in itself. Tolkien knew this when he wrote the Lord of the Rings - the Orcs were deformed Elves, for evil can create nothing. Evil can only distort and destroy, because it is fundamentally absence.

This set of definitions of course glosses other very important characteristics of which God possesses/is the source of - being, love, presence, mercy, justice, the list could go on and on. There are more and better proofs for why this is a good way to understand reality (some of which will likely show their head on this blog at a later date). I am just struck by the beauty of the symmetry, and the way in which it points to a convergent source - God.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The God of Invitations

Yesterday was a wonderful morning. I was awake early, but feeling refreshed, so I thought I'd take advantage of the morning quiet, let my girls sleep, and get some work done on my blog. As I posted a while back, I repented of my use of the WYSIWYG editor in favor of actually typing up the HTML (so much better). I've been happy with the change (my blogs are SO much easier to edit now!), but there's a fair amount of work left before my blog is up to code.

So anyway, there I am, editing away, when I realize that I haven't said the Rosary in a little while, and now would be the perfect opportunity while the family is asleep to get some personal prayer time in. (Of course, by realize I mean that I was being called to go have a little relationship time with Jesus through Mary.)

Cool, I think, I should do that. Okay, let me finish this post and I'll go pray.

But as I prepared to continue, I realized that that's not what had been asked of me. I had been asked to come pray now. I was being called to go do something more important - my blog could wait.

True enough. I think I am participating in the common good by sharing my thoughts and reflections (else I wouldn't be blogging), but I'm clearly doing it wrong if I forsake prayer for the sake of blogging. First things first and all that.

So anyway, I go and pray through Joyful Mysteries in front of our family altar, and am confronted by the 5th Joyful Mystery (which I have talked about here) - the Finding in the Temple. It is an awesome mystery, and one which also provides fodder to the discussion on "what Jesus knew and when" regarding how divine knowledge plays out when it is unified with human nature in the person of Jesus Christ.

It is a confusing and (potentially) frightening question, but not the point of this particular cogitation. Rather, I was brought to some of the research I had done regarding that question, and how it talked about the modes of knowledge which Christ displays. In particular, I was struck about how Christ was perceived by the teachers in the temple. Luke 2:46f -

And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.

He was asking questions. Moreover, one interpretation of "his answers" was not so much answers signifying knowledge, but rather (as it says in the scripture) wisdom. That is, it was His ability to answer instructive questions intelligently, and to ask intelligent questions to probe the depths of the scripture. Of course, this could very easily have been a reverse-socratic method on His part, but nonetheless His wisdom is being displayed because He is asking.

Tie this together with Paul's admonition that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and Revelation 3:20 (Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. - see image), and we have a revelation to the nature of our relationship with God.

He is a God of invitation!

Our God is not one of imposition. He's not. One could say that He "imposes" reality upon us (gravity and all), but really that is providing us with an ordered and intelligible nature in which we know our place, and know the rules. But when it comes to ultimate reality, union with Him and living according to His will? No, not even the least bit imposing.

He gives us the room to love Him of our own accord. It will end up being on His terms - after all He knows us better than we know ourselves - but He allows us to discover that. He allows us to assent to that, to cooperate with and participate in that reality of His love for us, and our meager effort to return that love, perfected in the sacrifice of the Son.

It is interesting too, that even though I "heard it twice," the request didn't change. I can't quite explain it, but I first heard in my heart a call to pray. Upon considering delaying this, I heard - almost as a tone in the chord which doesn't come out at first - an insistence in the call. A desire that I come to Him now, without delay. That "tone" was there the whole time, it was I who had changed to hear it.

I think this is true with all of our calls from God. The substance of the call does not change - ever. However our state in life, our receptivity to that call, these things affect our ability to hear His call, and to hear different parts of that call. When I was a bachelor, and then a newlywed, I had more time to serve my parish, and was called to be active in time-intensive activities.

Now that I am a father and still in college, I have a responsibility to devote more of my time to my daughter. With my wife pregnant with our second, I am further called to spend more time at home. I can't do the same things I used to, but it doesn't mean I'm not following the call now, or was failing the call then. Nor does it mean that the call changed.

The music doesn't change, but where we are in the music does. Our part, whether we're melody, harmony, soloing - all of it is part of the same beautiful piece of music.

What is He inviting you to do today?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Frog and the Scorpion

A fable:

One day there was a scorpion sitting by the side of the river. He was wondering how he might get across when a frog approached, clearly intent on crossing the river.

"Kind frog," called the scorpion, "will you carry me on your back to the other side? I cannot swim."

The frog replied, "Why should I carry you across? You will just sting me and I will die!"

"Not so!" said the scorpion, "for if I sting you, we will both drown, for I cannot swim."

So the frog took the scorpion on his back, seeing the wisdom in what he said. However, when the frog was in the middle of the river, he felt a sharp pain, and realized that the scorpion had stung him after all.

As the poison spread, the frog croaked out, "Why? Why would you do that? Now we will both drown!"

The scorpion replied, "I couldn't help it. It was in my nature to sting."

I've been doing a lot of reading, talking in person, and of course posting and commenting on Facebook, but I have yet to post here regarding the HHS Mandate. However, most if not all of what I would have said has been said elsewhere and better (and with T-Rex in a fighter plane), so this post is more of a collection of my favorites.

As to who the frog is, it is most certainly not the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, but aside from that I'll leave it to interpretation.

I'll update with more as I find really good ones. Feel free to add links in the comments.

The mandate of the HHS is a gross assault on the first amendment.
Neither as a Catholic nor as a Citizen of the United States can I remain silent on this issue.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What, me worry?

There is something seriously wrong with us.

A couple of weeks ago amongst a group of young with whom I am acquainted, we were talking about the various ways the federal government is working to take away our freedoms. Chief on the list was the indefinite detention of United States Citizens suspected of working with terrorist organizations on United States soil.

I have a big problem with this. So should you. I'm going to go right out and say it: if you don't have a big problem with this, you're doing it wrong.

One of the young men made one of the most common - and worst possible - comments on the situation: "What do you have to be worried about? Are you a terrorist?"


Why is this the wrong answer? Because peaceful pro-life protesters have been identified in certain documents as "potential terrorists." Because no matter how distasteful I may find the Occupy Wall Street movement, they are exercising their right to free speech, and yet have also been marked as potential terrorists.

Because the President of the United States of America gets to decide what a terrorist is.

Because I am a citizen of the United States of America, entitled to a fair and speedy trial by a jury of my peers under the law of that same country.

Because those who give up freedom for a measure of security deserve neither.

I don't think it will be this president, or the one after him. We may be fine for 20 years, 30 years, 50 years. But wake up, we are laying the foundation for totalitarianism.

Will this be the generation remembered by history as that which saved America from the brink of disaster? Or will they curse our name for not stopping this evil when we had the chance?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mary: Beloved of the Trinity

Mary may be one of the most controversial topics in Christendom. Catholics of both Western and Eastern Rites love her. Christians of other stripe usually have at least respect for her, though they often deride the Catholic love of this woman as over the top, or as even blasphemous.

What follows are some thoughts that would strike me from time to time regarding the reasonability of the Church's veneration of Mary, which were later confirmed by sources I trust.

First thing we should do is clear up a little terminology here. There are a number of key terms which are not used consistently in any dialog, which cause most of the confusion. They deserve a bit more attention, but for the time being these are the rough working definitions, and comments.

In no particular order:

  • Pray
    To ask or beseech
    -Appropriate to Mary (like asking a relative - living or dead - to pray for you)
  • Worship
    To assign worth, treat as divinity.
    -Due to God alone. Reverence for God as God.
  • Adore Admire [Updated 1/6/2012 12:02 AM]
    To be in wonder of another, or of that-which-is, to be marveled by something.
    -I confusedly wrote adoration in the first release of this, but the concept I was thinking is actually called admiration in my translated copy of Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe's book Retracing Reality: A Philosophical Itinerary. I apologize for any confusion I may have caused. Adoration is directed to God alone, and is a topic upon which many books could be written.

Now that we have that clear, let me move on to the real thoughts that led me to post this.

It strikes me that for every person, there are three major relationships that are (or at least can/should be) deeper than anything else: parent, spouse, & child. Yes, friendship is important, and I deeply value the intimacy I have with my friends, but there is something special about your parents, your spouse, and your children. For Mary, all three of these are God.

First off is the fatherhood. God is of course the Father of us all, but he is especially that to the Jews, and even moreso to Mary, who tradition tells us was a promised temple virgin. She was dedicated to the "family business." That's fairly obvious.

Similarly the motherhood is obvious, as "to the wonder of creation a creature gave birth to her creator." Mary is Θεοτοκος (Theotokos - literally "God Bearer") - not merely the mother of Christ, or mother of Jesus, but the Mother of God. Anyone accepting that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of God, the Word Incarnate must accept that Mary, as His mother, is therefore mysteriously the Mother of God.

But what about her spouse? Obviously, she was betrothed to Joseph, and we acknowledge him as her spouse, but see how we do it in the Divine Praises - "Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse."

Many people think (mistakenly) that Mary & Joseph's marriage was "ordinary," in the sense that after Jesus was born they had normal marital relations, and at least a few children (the "brothers" of Christ). What bugged me about this was quite simply that Joseph couldn't be Mary's husband, she already had one. Scripture tells us that at the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel told her that the Spirit of the Most High would overshadow her as it did the Ark of the Covenant in ancient days, and create life within her.

She's already having a child with God, how could she have children with any mere mortal man?

Joseph's role in salvation history was to be the protector of the Mother of God, and the best way that he could do this was to be her "legal husband" as it were. Tradition tells us that even before the Annunciation there were no plans for them to live as a normal wedded couple, as she was a promised temple virgin. But even moreso afterwards, how could any man dare to take as his wife the woman who had literally given birth to God?

So there she is, Mary, Beloved of the Trinity. She sits at the heart of the ineffable and unfathomable mystery which is the Triune yet Single God, being the Daughter, Spouse, and Mother of God in a way shared by no other mortal. And yet, by the virtue of our humanity, we are connected to her, and she is in fact a prefigurement for us of the desire of God.

Mary's position is the position desired for all mankind by God. Christ said to the crowds, "Who is my Mother? The one who does the will of the one who sent me." Of course, Mary was the most perfectly obedient to that will, but Christ shows us that we are to follow her example that we too may become "the Mother of God," "the Radiant Spouse, the Church," and of course, "Children of the Most High, Heirs to the Kingdom of God."

We love her for we see in her the Love with which she was enveloped. We see her as the most perfect role model of how to accept the Love and the Will of God into our lives, and to make that Love present to the world.

So when you are asked why you pay so much attention to Mary, reply with a smile of joy, "Because God did!"