Today is the 444th year after the battle of Lepanto, the most important naval battle in history. Without it, Muslim Turks would have taken over Italy in 1571. Because of the Mother of God’s role in this naval battle, Pope St. Pius V asked that every first Sunday in October be thenceforth remembered and honored as the Feast of the Holy Rosary. The full story of the naval battle is at Catholic Answers, but this homily ties in the current battle in the Church, and the victory that will come through the Rosary:
I petition the intercession of the following two saints as I consecrate this blog to St. Maximilian Kolbe and the Holy Mother of God, aka the Holy Theotokos, the Immaculata, Mary Most Holy…”Mamma Mary!” as all the Philippina women at my parish lovingly call our mother. I also dedicate it to all the guardian angels of the entire world, and especially the angels of any people the Eternal Father has destined to read my mediocre but true blog.
May I suggest St. Maximilian Kolbe’s consecration prayer to the Mother of God? I believe St. John Paul II prayed this every day:
O Immaculata, Queen of heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, [name] cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most please you. If it please you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: She will crush your head and You alone have destroyed all the heresies of the whole world. Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The above picture is taken from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. It is clear in this movie, and in most private revelations, that Mary (the Mother of Jesus) knew Mary Magdalene long before the crucifixion.
Granted, Scripturally I know of no other time when Mary and Mary are found in the same place, except John 19:25 (the three Mary’s at the crucifixion.) So my theory can’t be proved from Scripture. However, using common sense, we can be very sure that Mary and Mary didn’t simply introduce oneself to each the other at the foot of the cross. It can be assumed that this would be an inappropriate time for introductions; Mary and Mary had to have known each other long before the crucifixion.
Even though she has very few words, let’s look at who Mary (the Mother of God) knew in the New Testament. Of course, she is at the four most important events of salvation history, which gives us an idea of who knew her:
1) The Incarnation of God as a zygote (Luke 1:38)
2) The Death of Jesus (John 19)
3) The Resurrection (Sacred Tradition)
4) Pentecost (Acts 1 and 2)
But then, on a smaller scale, it’s surprising who Mary knew. Mary seemed to have a quiet presence in the life of everybody:
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with His disciples.—John 2:1
Mary seems to be the star of the invitation, where Jesus’ band of 12 fishermen were “also invited.” Of course, Jesus never committed any sin of gluttony, but maybe Jesus’ disciples ate too much at weddings or something, because John makes it pretty clear they were an afterthought!
The Apostles all knew Mary. Foremost was John the beloved, who was to live with the Blessed Virgin Mary after Christ’s Death (John 19:27) and assumedly after the Ascension. (Their home was uncovered in Turkey in 1891, using the private revelations of Bl. Emmerich—the same visions that guided the making of the movie, the Passion of the Christ.)
John’s brother James, whose feast day we celebrate today, was not left orphaned by Mary. As you know, Jesus sent James to evangelize Spain. However, at one point James was ready to give up after only gaining 8 disciples. Mary bi-located to him when he was praying at modern day Zaragoza, and (during the first approved Marian apparition) Mary told James not to give up, for the faith of that people would be as strong as the pillar that she was standing on.
There is a 17th century Spanish nun named Mary of Agreda who was given a private revelation of the entire life of Mary (the Mother of God.) It is put into several thousand pages of a book that you can buy, the Mystical City of God (not to be confused with the work of St. Augustine by almost the same name.) In the Mystical City of God, it is revealed to the nun of Agreda that Saul was always slated in God’s Providence to become the great Apostle of Jesus Christ to the nations.
However…this event was to happen much later that when it was originally “scheduled” by God, so to speak. What changed the course of history was the prayers of the mother of Jesus. After Pentecost, Mary saw in prophesy that Saul would become the chosen vessel, but she saw this was coming much later than when the Church needed such a weapon of love. Mary begged God the Father to speed up this conversion, and God the Father answered; Saul became Paul much earlier than he was slated to.
What does any of this have to do with Mary Magdalene?
A few days ago, as I was offering the Mass on the Feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, the above scene from the movie hit me: Mary holds Mary during the torture of Jesus. I realized at that moment that all the great saints of the New Testament were really close to the Mother of God. Even if you don’t believe in the private revelations that filled the movie of Mel Gibson or the Mystical City of God, common sense applied to Scripture reveals that the mother of Jesus intimately knew all the slobs and dignitaries of the New Testament.
Here’s how I want to tie all of this together:
After doing Total Consecration to Mary for the first time several years ago, I had actually come to believe the words of St. Louis De Montfort, namely, that there were a few certain saints (like St. Bernard or St. Bonaventure) who chose Mary as the quickest and surest way to Jesus Christ. For a long time, I had taken this to be a development of doctrine of the middle-ages—a wonderful and valid one, to be sure—but a development of doctrine nonetheless.
But at the Mass a few days ago in honor of St. Mary Magdalene, as I thought of the above scene of Mary and Mary, I had this realization that Jesus’ mother is the dispersal vector of zeal for her Son for not only for the great saints of the middle-ages—but for all the tycoons of the New Testament. This would surely include the conversion of St. Mary Magdalene.
In light of all the great people and the events of the first century Church, we have to come to the conclusion that the Holy Theotokos—she who carries God as the God-Bearer—is the one who gently brings all the top dogs of the New Testament to her Christ Jesus. Even with Mary Magdalene, I imagine the mother of Jesus was the quickest and strongest way to her son. So it will always be, for you and for me, too.
Should God have ended the world when Adam and Eve sinned?
As I tell high-school kids, as soon as Adam and Eve had sinned…There were only three options that God had for a planet spiraling towards total sin:
1) Blow up earth to end both sin and free-will…or…
2) Turn people into robots that would automatically obey, so as to terminate free-will but keep the planet…or…
3) Send a rescuer who could transform the human state of suffering into redemptive suffering.
If you can think of a fourth option, let me know. In the mean time, notice that only the third option allows for free-will.
Because option #3 allows for free-will to continue among both the good and evil people on this blue planet, it is the only option that allows for either love or harming people until the end of time.
For example, if a woman is choosing to offer up her suffering for her children after her husband was killed by a drunk driver, she can only choose to unite her redemptive suffering to Christ’s infinite merits of the cross precisely because she lives in a world where someone else can choose to drive drunk. This is why widows must live side-by-side with drunk drivers until the final judgment.
We each have the option to continue the cycle of suffering and sin, or… we can choose to escape from that horrible cycle. Baptism ends sin (original sin, at least, and actual sin in the lives of some saints) but suffering continues for them. However, their suffering then ceases to have a certain mental pain, as God said to St. Catherine of Siena. When you carry the cross God has allowed in your life, your suffering can become redemptive because it more easily fits with the merits of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. With Christ, we escape the red patten to the left in favor of the orange trajectory, a different trajectory of suffering:
This is only possible by the cross. I put the cross in blue for two reasons. The vertical blue bar shows that Mary gave God the one thing He didn’t have: The ability to die. This symbolizes Christ’s incarnation and His approach to us. Secondly, our incorporation into the mystical body of Christ happens in the waters of baptism (the horizontal blue line.) As St. Peter writes, “It is baptism that now saves you.”—1 Pt 3:21. Suffering has little value in itself until it be incorporated into the suffering mystical body of Christ. This happens at baptism, because it is at that moment that we receive all of the merits of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ as a free gift of redemption. The best description of death to oneself, baptism, and this new life can be found in Romans 6:3-11.
Death is the cycle to the left. The requirement for new life is: a new life. The gift of the cross is free (gratis) to us at the high price Jesus paid for us in his 17 hours of torture…nay, His whole life lived for us. But, for salvation to be realized, we must cooperate. The cross doesn’t offer an escape from suffering but it does offer an escape from sin, and that part is up to our cooperation with grace in living in our free will as we become transformed, divinized sons and daughters of God.
We are then given the chance on this earth to let our sufferings be united to those of Jesus (through Mary) so as to become participators in redemptive suffering. Again, in itself, suffering has no value. But joined to the cross, it helps redeem the world. It helps pull more people out of the cycle on the left to the orange bar on the right. This is all that the old-school (and now new-school) nuns meant when they said “Offer it up.” It all comes from what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church.”—Col 1:24.
What is lacking or wanting in the suffering of Jesus? Nothing except my participation. It was 100%, but that 100% continues in His mystical body. As long as sin continues on the earth, so also must the suffering of Christians. It is a gift, not a burden, and it is joined to Christ’s sufferings at the nearest Mass. That is why both the suffering of the Mystical Body and the Mass continue until the end of time.
At the final judgment, the left cycle will continue in hell. However, the right trajectory will become heaven.
Here on earth, both cycles have to suffer. So, if you have your choice between the devil’s eternal cross and Jesus’ temporary cross, why not avoid sin and choose the pattern to the right?