New Year’s Day: Mary, Mother of God
By Fr Munachi Ezeogu, cssp
The Old Order Changeth, Giving Place to New
In all cultures, the passing of the old year and coming of the new is marked by a two-fold celebration. The first phase of the celebration, on the last night of the old year, is marked by noise-making, drunkenness and disordely behaviour. In it humanity re-enacts the primordial chaos that enveloped the world before creation. The second phase of the celebration, as the first day of the new year dawns, is, very different. It is marked by calmness, sobriety, and orderly behaviour. In it humanity reenacts creation, the triumph of order over chaos.
African Christians often ask why there is no feast of the creation in the church’s liturgical calendar. They ask why there is no feast dedicated to God the Father, when we have feasts dedicated to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. One reason for this omission is because the early Christians were more concerned about the new order of grace that came through Jesus and Mary rather than the old order of nature that came through Adam and Eve. Today’s second reading, taken from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, dwells on this new order which began with God sending us His son and continues with God sending us His Holy Spirit.
There are two parts to the reading. The first part dwells on the incarnation, the mystery of the Son of God becoming human (verses 4-5). The second part dwells on sanctification, that mystery whereby God sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to make us God’s own children (verses 6-7).
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children (Galatians 4:4-5).
Paul sees the entire order of nature, from creation up to the coming of Christ, as a preparation. In the fulness of time, when the preparation was complete, then the real thing happened. God sent His Son. Paul points out the contrasts between the new order in Christ and the old order in Adam.
- Jesus was God’s Son whereas Adam was only God’s creation.
- Jesus was born of a woman, Mary, whereas the woman, Eve, came from Adam.
- Jesus was born a loyal subject of the law whereas Adam would not obey God’s law.
- Jesu brought us redemption, Adam brought us the Fall.
- In Jesus we regain the dignity of being God’s children, in Adam we lost it.
In other words, the incarnation is a new creation. It is God’s fresh attempt to realize the original purpose of creation, which our first parents failed to abide by. In the incarnation God gives humanity another chance. We can, therefore, say that God sent His Son to become human like us so that we could become God’s children like he is.
And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God (Galatians 4:6-7).
God’s first attempt to make us His children through creation failed. God would not want the new creation to be a failure also. To ensure that this does not happen, God sends “the Spirit of His Son” into our hearts to teach us and empower us to be and feel and live as God’s children. This indwelling Spirit helps us to know God as our loving Father and address God with familiarity “Abba! Daddy!” This Spirit helps us to know ourselves as God’s beloved children, not as fearful slaves who have to do God’s will under fear of punishment.
As the new year begins, let us see this year as another chance given to us to get it right, to grow in familiarity with God our loving Father, and to grow in our awareness of ourselves as God’s beloved children, all of us, beloved children of the same loving Father.
New Year’s Day: Mary, Mother of God
By Fr Munachi Ezeogu, cssp
New Year Resolution with Mary
The name “January” comes from the Roman god Janus, the god with two faces, one looking to the past and the other looking to the future. This is indeed a time to look back at the year that has just ended and to look forward to the new year ahead of us. How did I spend this one year of my life that has just passed? Did I use it to advance my goals and objectives in life? Did I use it to enhance the purpose of my existence? Could I have done better last year in the way I invested my time between the demands of work, family, friends and society, and the demands of my spiritual life? What things did I achieve last year and what did I fail to achieve? How can I consolidate the achievements of last year while reversing the failures and losses in this new year? Through soul searching questions like these we find that a review of the past year naturally leads to setting goals and resolutions for the new year.
There are people who tell you that there is no point making new year resolutions. Do not believe them. We must set goals and make resolutions as a necessary conclusion to our review of the past year. And we do need to review our lives from year to year because, as Socrates says, the unexamined life is not worth living.
Today’s newspapers are full of individual and collective new year resolutions. Most of those, however, are not resolutions at all but only wishes. What is the difference between a resolution and a wish? A wish identifies a goal one wants to reach, a resolution specifies the steps one will take to reach it. A wish says this is where I want to be, a resolution says this is the road I will take, this is what I will do to get there. The wishful person says “I want to pass my exams this year” and the resolved person says “I will devote an extra hour to my studies everyday in order to pass my exams.” The wishful person says “I will have more peace and love in my family this year” and the resolved person says “I will spend more time with my family at table instead of rushing off to the TV, so that we get to know and understand ourselves better.” The wishful person says “I will live a life of union with God this year” and the resolved person says “I will set aside this time everyday to pray and hear God’s word.” The difference between wishing and resolving is: are we prepared to do what it takes to make our dreams come true, are we prepared to pay the price?
The gospel today presents Mary to us as a model of that new life in Christ that all of us wish for ourselves in the new year. There we see that Mary was prepared to do something to realize this goal. What did she do? We read that the shepherds, when they went to adore the Child Jesus in the manger, told all that the angels had said to them. “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Again after the boy Jesus was found in the Temple, we are told that “His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). Mary was a woman who valued the word of God, who treasured it and made time to meditate and ponder it. It is true that the holiness of Mary is attributed to the grace of God, but this should not make us forget that she needed to make an effort in order to cooperate with the grace of God. She pondered the word of God in order to discern what God was saying to her at every stage in her life as the handmaid of God.
The two examples above of Mary pondering the word of God, namely, after the visit of the shepherds and after the finding in the temple, show that Mary found the word of God both in divine revelation (the angels’ words to the shepherds) and in her own experiences (her encounter with her son in the temple). Similarly God speaks to us today through divine revelation (e.g. the Bible, the teaching and preaching of the Church) as well as through our personal experiences, if only we made time to reflect on them as Mary did.
Whatever the situation in which we find ourselves – a hardship, a disappointment, a decision to make – God has a solution, an answer that is right for us. We tell God about it in prayer but we also listen to what God has to tell us about it. Prayer is a conversation with God but sometimes all we do is pick up the phone, read out the list of our problems to God and drop the phone without listening to hear what God has to say to us. Let us today resolve to listen more to the voice of God, to treasure God’s word and ponder it in our hearts. Then shall we be able to realize our new year resolution of a new life in union with God.
RESOLUSYON: Reflection for NEW YEAR – Solemnity of Mary Mother of God – January 1, 2013 Year of Faith
Bagong taon na naman! Bagong buhay… Bagong pag-asa! May New Year’s Resolution ka na ba? Sabi ng isang text na natanggap ko: Ito ang mga New Year’s Resolutions ko: 1. Di na ko mangangako, PROMISE! 2. Di na ko mag-iingles, NEVER AGAIN! 3. Di na ako magsusugal. PUSTAHAN TAYO! 4. At di na ko magsasalita ng tapos. PERIOD. hehehe… parang sinasabi n’yang para saan pa ang New Year’s Resolution, eh sa simula pa lang di mo na kayang tuparin ito? Kung sabagay, marami sa atin ang parating sumusubok na gumawa ng new year’s resolutions pero tumatagal ba? Marami sa atin ay “ningas kugon” o kaya naman ay parang “kuwitis” ang pangako… hanggang simula lang! Pagkalipas ng ilang araw, balik uli sa dati! Kaya nga ang marami ay di na elib sa paggawa ng NYR o New Year’s Resolution. Tama? Mali!!! Hindi ko sinasang-ayunan ang ganitong pag-iisip. Sapagkat parang sinasabi mo na rin na di mo kayang baguhin ang iyong sarili! Minsan may isang tatay na gumawa ng NYR na uuwi na siya ng maaga pagkatapos ng trabaho. Nung dati kasi ay inaabot siya ng hatinggabi dahil sa kanyang “extra-curricular activities!” Laging gulat ng asawa niya nang sa simula ay umuuwi na siya ng maaga. Kaya’t panay ang pasasalamat ang namumutawi sa kanyang bibig: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!” Kaya lang habang tumatagal ay bumabalik na naman ang masamang ugali ng asawa at ang maagang pag-uwi ay inuumaga na naman. Kaya’t minsang dumating ng umaga si mister ay binulyawan niya ito: “Walanghiya ka! … as it was in the beginning ka na naman! Animal!!!” Saan ba nakasasalalay ang isang tunay na pagbabago? Ang Kapistahan ngayong unang araw ng taon ay may sinasabi sa atin. Kapistahan ngayon ni Maria, Ina ng Diyos. Kung mayroon mang pinakadakilang katangian si Maria ay walang iba kundi ang kanyang malakas na pananampalataya! At ito ang maari nating hingin kay sa ating Mahal na Ina… ang isang malakas na pananampalataya na kaya nating baguhin ang ating sarili. Totoo, ito ay isang “grasya” na tanging Diyos lang ang maaring magkaloob. Ngunit hindi niya ito ibibigay sa atin kung hindi natin hihingiin at hindi natin pagsusumikapang isabuhay. Manalig ka na kaya mong ihinto ang bisyo mo! Manalig ka na kaya mong maging ulirang asawa! Manalig ka na kaya mong maging mabuti at masunuring anak. Manalig ka na kaya mong magsikap sa pag-aaral! Manalig ka na sa tulong ng Diyos ay kaya mong baguhin ang takbo ng buhay mo… Katulad ni Maria, umasa tayo sa Kanya pero gawin natin ang kalooban Niya. May kasabihan tayo… “nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa!”
God entrusted the fragile baby Jesus under the care of the Blessed Mother. As we begin the New Year, let us entrust ourselves and the year ahead of us under the hands of our loving Mother.
There’s a beautiful message of the Blessed Mother in Guadalupe, Mexico: “I am here, I’m your mother. Do not fear I am near!”
We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future in his hands. Like the Blessed Mother, let us be more trusting in God’s providence and love.
Let us listen again to our Mother who tells us: “Remember my child, when you are happy, I’m happy. When you are sad, I am sad. When you do good, I jump with joy. When you do bad, I cry but I will always be your mother.” (Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD Bible Diary 2002)
We are at the beginning of a new year again. While many of us started the year with a bang (literally!), Mama Mary teaches us to start the New Year with a prayer…”Mary treasured and pondered all these things in her heart.”
What do we pray for in the New Year? First of all let us THANK GOD for the year that was. Whatever happened in the past year, good or bad, happy or sad, let us leave that all now, with gratitude in God’s heart. Second, let us SURRENDER TO GOD the year ahead of us. We do not know what the future holds, but we know He holds the future in His hands and that is enough. We believe that he will be with us every single day of the year, so we need not fear. Finally, let us ASK GOD to give us strength and courage to face whatever lies ahead of us especially the grace to be able to carry out whatever mission we have for Him and the Blessed Mother.
A happy and blessed New Year to all. Through it all, let us remember the words of our Mother: “I’m here, I am your mother, Do not fear, I am near.” (Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
“The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!”
– The Priestly Blessing (Num. 6:24-26)
By Fr. Ramil Nerio
1. Blessing anticipates Mission. To be blessed is to be sent. In the Scriptures when a blessing is bestowed the recipient is expected to accomplish something according to the wishes of the source of blessing. Here clearly God bestows blessing to Israel. The first blessing: “The LORD bless you and keep you!” His blessing assures his protection. That is, he will accompany you.
The year opens with God’s blessing, a blessing in a form of a promise that he will walk by your side all through the year. God will accompany you. His presence will overshadow you; it will never leave you. Know then that your actions are God’s. The paths that you will take are his. The ground where you will step on, the things that you will touch, the people that you will meet, relations that you will make, decisions that you will do – he will sanctify. Wherever you will go, God will be with you.
2. Blessing comes after Forgiveness. His face shine upon you, and is gracious to you! To bless is to stand before the one who receives it. Or, to receive blessing is to stand before the one who bestows it. When God meant to bless he stands before his people. He is truly present. To be present before us, sinners, indeed He is gracious. To be blessed by God is to assume his forgiveness.
At the final blessing the priest or deacon tells us: “Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing.” As if the minister says: “Pray that you will stand worthy before his presence, i.e., pray he will forgive your sins.” And then without hesitation, God bestows his blessing through the mouth of the priest.
Know then, before the priest utters the first word of blessing, forgiveness of our sins has been granted. We stand pure before 2016 starts. God gives us a clean slate, as if we just received Baptism or absolution of our sins. He is not counting our sins; rather, he is strengthening us to do what is pleasing before him.
3. Blessing imparts Peace. He looks kindly upon you and gives you peace! He will look after you. He will make sure all your needs are provided, each day. His blessing takes away anxiety and fear. Fear not. Have courage. Nothing will go wrong. Have peace. Be at peace.
All your works, your undertakings, the work of your hands will be richly rewarded. Stay under his loving gaze and you will live in plenty all your days. “The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack [want]. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me” (Ps 23:1-2).
Welcome the year filled with God’s blessings!
Have a Blessed New Year!
Mary, the Mother of God?
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
January 1 is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics not because it is New Years, but because it is the octave (8th day) of Christmas, the feast of Mary the Mother of God. This feast helps bring home the reality of the incarnation, that God did not simply briefly appear in human form, but actually inseparably and eternally united himself to a human nature. In Jesus, God truly became man . . . and that man had, and still has, a mother. So affirmed the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in confirming the title of Mary as Mother of God.
The mother of the messiah has been called many things in the last 2000 years –the VirginMary, Our Lady, the Blessed Mother. But call her “the Mother of God,” and you’ll see some Christians squirm.
This is nothing new. One day in the early fifth century, a priest preached a stirring sermon in the presence of the patriarch of Constantinople. His subject was the holy mother of Jesus. The preacher continually referred to Mary as the “Theotokos” meaning “God-bearer” or mother of God. This was no innovation–Christians had invoked Mary under this title for at least two hundred years. Nevertheless, at the close of the sermon, the patriarch ascended the steps of the pulpit to correct the preacher. We should call Mary the Mother of Christ, said Patriarch Nestorius, not the Mother of God. She was the mother of his human nature, not the mother of his divinity.
His comment sparked a riot. And the dispute rocked not only the congregation, but the entire empire. Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, immediately recognized that Nestorius’ Marian theology was a symptom of a much deeper problem, a problem with the incarnation itself. For to deny Mary the title “Mother of God” makes of Jesus a dichotomy, a split personality. It would mean that God had not really embraced our humanity so as to become human. Rather, the humanity of Christ is hermetically sealed off from the divinity, as if Jesus were two persons, as if human nature was so distasteful that God, in Christ, had to keep it at arm’s distance. It is OK, according to Nestorius, to say that in Jesus, God raised Lazarus, or multiplied the loaves, or walked on water. But it is not OK to say that in Jesus God is born or that God died.
Cyril, aware that this was a challenge to the heart of our faith, demanded that an ecumenical council be called to settle the matter. So in 431, the Council of Ephesus met, under Cyril’s leadership, and solemnly proclaimed that Mary is indeed rightly to be honored as the Theotokos, the Mother of God. It proclaimed that from the moment of his conception, God truly became man. Of course Mary is a creature and could never be the origin of the eternal Trinity, God without beginning or end. But the second person of the blessed Trinity chose to truly become man. He did not just come and borrow a human body and drive it around for awhile, ascend back to heaven, and discard it like an old car. No, at the moment of his conception in the womb of Mary, an amazing thing happened. God the Son united himself with a human nature forever. Humanity and divinity were so closely bound together in Jesus, son of Mary, that they could never be separated again. Everything that would be done by the son of Mary would be the act both of God and of man. So indeed it would be right to say that a man raised Lazarus from the dead and commanded the wind and waves, that God was born that first Christmas day and that, on Good Friday, God died.
The Council of Ephesus, once confirmed by the Pope, became the third ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, and its teaching in this matter is dogma, truth revealed by God which all are bound to accept.
So why does the Roman liturgy celebrate the Octave of Christmas as the Feast of Mary the Mother of God? Because this paradoxical phrase strikes at the very heart of Christmas. The songs we sing and the cards we write extol the babe of Bethlehem as Emmanuel, God-with-us. He is so with us that after Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin of Nazareth, the Divine Word can never again be divided from our humanity. What God has joined, let no man separate.
Celebrating Mary as God’s Mother
DEACON MICHAEL BICKERSTAFF JANUARY 1, 2016
Each January 1st (on the Octave of Christmas), the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. I receive more comments and questions from non-Catholics, and even some Catholics, about the Church’s Marian practices and teachings than just about any other topic. Some want to know where we can find these teachings in the bible. Some even suggest that Catholics pay too much attention to Mary somehow leaving too little attention for Jesus.
I have written previously about how the Church’s dogmas concerning Mary are intended to teach us more about her Son than they are about Mary. “Each of these teachings [the four Marian dogmas] reveals more about her Son than they do about Mary. They are Christ-centered (Christocentric) teachings. In other words, as the late Archbishop Sheen would say, we don’t start with Mary, but with her Son. Jesus we adore and worship, Mary, we venerate because of who her son is and the example of faith she lived and what learning about her can teach us about her Son.”
This is not to say our attention or devotion to the Blessed Mother should be diminished, it shouldn’t be, but the point is to understand the motivation of the Church to formalize these teachings which are a part of the Deposit of Faith.
So, let’s see what we can learn about Jesus through learning about Mary in the first of the four Marian Dogmas.
Yes, Mary is the Mother of God
Definition of the Dogma: The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 495 states, “Called in the Gospels ‘the mother of Jesus’, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as ‘the mother of my Lord.’ [Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.] In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos).” [cf Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.]
You can probably see already in this short paragraph from the Catechism that this teaching about Mary contains important truths about her Son. See if you can spot them.
From the beginning, the Church had to counter erroneous teachings—or heresies—concerning Jesus Christ. These Christological Heresies were generally centered on the person and nature of Jesus—questions concerning who and what Jesus is.
- Is Jesus truly human?
- Is Jesus truly Divine?
- Is Jesus both truly and fully human and Divine?
These three questions led to other questions, such as, “If Jesus is both God and man, how many persons and natures, modes of operation and wills does He possess? How are they joined? When were they joined? Will they always be joined? Was His humanity really free? Was it real or just nothing more than a set of clothing worn by the Divine?”
These were the areas of Christology that the Church had to provide answers against the Christological Heresies. Some of these errors had already surfaced in Apostolic times as we can see in 2 John 7 (NAB), “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist.”
Although it is much more invovled, let’s summarize three of these categories of errors:
- Denial of Christ’s Humanity– Some taught that the Christ was not human at all, that he had only an apparent body or that the body he wore came from heaven and not from Mary (mankind). Others denied that He possesed a human soul.
- Denial of Christ’s Divinity– Some rejected the teaching of the Church that Jesus was truly God or reduced Him to either an apparition of God or an enlightened mediator somewhere between God and man.
- Denial that Christ is One Person– Others accepted in some fashion that Jesus is both God and man, but denied these two natures were united in a single person.
One of these heresies that denied the Divinity of Christ was Arianism and its effect was far-reaching in both number of adherents and in years (a span of three centuries). Another heresy, Nestorianism, effectively, if not explicitly, divided Christ into two persons, one human and one divine. Mary had long been proclaimed by the faithful as Theotokos, God-bearer or Mother of God. Nestorius erroneously taught that while Mary was certainly the mother of the man (Jesus), she could not be the mother of the Logos (God).
The Apostle’s Creed states, in part, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” The prologue of John’s Gospel states, in part, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
There is only one Son, the eternal Logos—the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity—in Whom are two natures, one Divine and one human. He was conceived (His Incarnation) and born in time of Mary who is His mother, for mothers are mothers of persons, not mothers of natures. So the Council of Ephesus, in 431 A.D., condemned the teaching of Nestorius with these words: “If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel in truth is God and on this account the Holy Virgin is is the Mother of God—since according to the flesh she brought forth the Word of God made flesh—let him be anathema.” [Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma; Dr. Ludwig Ott; Book III, Part III, Chapter 1]
Although the Council of Ephesus (3rd Eccumenical Council of the Church) was called to deal with Nestorianism, it really addressed several truths that were denied in other heresies:
- Mary was truly a mother.
- Her son was one person.
- She bore the Logos, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, according to His humanity.
- The person she conceived and gave birth to was fully God and fully man.
Testimony of Scripture
These teachings are found in Sacred Scripture. The New Testament writers acknowledge that Mary was the mother of Jesus. They speak of His relation to Mary (Luke 2:4-7) and show Him to be a man (Luke 24:39). They declare Him to be God (John 1:1-4; Romans 9:1-5).
Testimony of the Church Fathers
“For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit” – [Saint Ignatius of Antioch; Bishop of Antioch; † ca. A. D. 110; Letter to the Ephesians; Jurgens I, § 42]
“The Word Himself, born of Mary who was still a Virgin, rightly received in birth the recapitulation of Adam, thereby recapitulating Adam Himself.” – [Saint Irenaeus; Bishop of Lyons; ca. A. D. 140 – ca. A. D. 202; Against Heresies; Jurgens I § 223]
“The Virgin Mary … being obedient to His Word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God.” – [Saint Irenaeus; Bishop of Lyons; ca. A. D. 140 – ca. A. D. 202; Against Heresies; Jurgens I § 256a]
“If anyone does not agree that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead. If anyone asserts that Christ passed through the Virgin as through a channel, and was not shaped in her both divinely and humanly, divinely because without man and humanly because in accord with the law of gestation, he is likewise godless. If anyone assert that His manhood was formed, to be clothed over afterwards with divinity, he too is condemned; for this were not a generation of God, but a flight from generation . . . But He is not two Persons! Far be it! . . .” – [Saint Gregory of Nazianz; 2nd of the Great Cappadocian Fathers; Bishop of Sasima; ca. A. D. 330 – ca. A. D. 389; Letter to Cledonius, Against Apollinaris, A. D. 382; Jurgens I § 1017]
“We confess therefore that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Only-begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect Man, having a rational soul and a body; according to His divinity, born of the Father before the ages, and in these last days, according to His humanity, born of the Virgin Mary for us and for our salvation. According to His divinity He is consubstantial with the Father, and according to His humanity He is consubstantial with us. A union was made of the two natures, on which account we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. In accord with this understanding of the unconfused union we confess that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God, through God the Word’s being incarnate and becoming Man, and, from this conception, His joining to Himself the temple assumed from her . . .” – [Saint Cyril, Patriarch and Bishop of Alexandria, † A. D. 444; Letter to John, Bishop of Antioch; A. D. 433; Creed of Union or Creed of Ephesus; Jurgens III § 2060]
“The Word, then, was God, and He became also Man; and since He was born according to the flesh for the sake of mankind, it is necessary that she who bore Him is the Mother of God. For if she did not bear God, neither is He that was born of her to be called God. If the divinely inspired Scriptures name Him God, as God having been made Man and incarnate, He could not become Man in any other way than through birth from a woman: how then should she who bore Him not be the Mother of God?” – [Saint Cyril, Patriarch and Bishop of Alexandria, † A. D. 444; from Scholia on the Incarnation . . . ; A. D. 431, post-Council of Ephesus; Jurgens III § 2125]
Jesus is true God and true Man
Jesus is true God and true man. He is one, single Divine Person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in Whom, by His Incarnation, are two natures, one Divine (spirit) and one human (body and soul). All Christians today accept this truth formalized and proclaimed as de fide Dogmas of the Catholic Church. Mary, a true mother, was and is the Mother of that one, single Divine Person and is thus to be acknowledged as the Mother of God. This teaching was proclaimed to insure that the Dogmas concerning the identity and nature of Christ are clearly understood.
When friends, neighbors, family or acquaintances object that Catholics deify Mary by this teaching, you can now explain the reason and reasonableness of the title. No, Mary does not pre-date God, she is His creature. But she does pre-date God’s Incarnation in Jesus Christ. And since Jesus is not two people, but one Divine Person, she is rightly referred to as the mother of that person—The Mother of God.
Reflect on this. Jesus, Who is God, is the only natural-born son who chose His mother. He had a plan for her life and she accepted it with her fiat, her yes given to the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation. For that we are eternally grateful and indebted to Mary, who was given to us to be our mother by her Son from the Cross.
And if anyone ever suggests to you that you love Mary too much, answer, “Oh no, I could not possibly love Mary too much, because I could never love her as much as she is loved by her son!”
Into the deep…
Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™.
New Year, new you
by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD
December 30, 2015
A MAN prayed on New Year, saying, “Dear God, all I ask for the New Year is a FAT wallet and a THIN body. And please don’t mix them up… like you did last year!”
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Like that man, let’s begin the brand New Year with a prayer of gratitude. Let’s thank the good Lord we’re still alive.
Months ago, I celebrated successively the funeral Masses of a friend who was 57 and another, a lady bank manager, aged 54. Both never reached 2016.
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Then let us thank God for the big and small blessings like landing a job, passing the board exam, finding a solution to a business problem.
Include the failures and disappointments, too.
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Failures should not discourage us altogether but rather motivate us to learn from them and improve. The achievement of the newly crowned Filipina Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is a heartwarming example. After failing twice to win the Binibining Pilipinas, she did not give up but tried again, each time learning from her mistakes. And on the third time, she didn’t only win but went on to bag the most prestigious Miss Universe crown.
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On the eve of New Year, people hang round fruits like grapes and lanzones in their houses; they also wear clothes with polka dots symbolizing the round coin. What should be hung, some wit says, are rectangular-shaped objects which symbolize paper bills or checks.
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Cynics and skeptics remark, “That’s a lot of superstition. Do you think those beliefs will work if you are lazy, irresponsible, extravagant and un-resourceful?”
The author of many inspirational books, Robert Schuller, relates about his experience of his old, heavy, fireproof safe. One day he wanted something from the safe, but could not find the key.
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The last resort was the locksmith. So he put the safe in the trunk of his car and drove off.
The locksmith looked at it and said, “I think I can find a key for that.” He returned with some keys, but none of them fit the lock.
He said lamely, “I’m sorry I can’t help you.” As he said that, he lifted it. He grabbed the edge underneath the lid and the lid opened up. It had been unlocked all the time!
And right on top, inside, was the key!
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LESSON? The key to a “new you” is inside you. It’s been there all the time. But it’s up to you to use the key and unlock the potentials and positive traits that are within you.
So make your dreams come true this New Year. But the first thing you have to do is…wake up and start working!
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- JUDE NOVENA SUSPENDED… at the Divine Word Shrine in Christ the King Seminary, E. Rodriguez Ave. QC due to the Christmas and New Year’s feast.
The novena resumes on Jan. 7, 2016.
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GIVE LOVE ON CHRISTMAS. I am appealing on behalf of some indigent sick I’m helping as well Dante Cabansag and Fr. Ruben Mamuad, SVD suffering from renal failure and are undergoing thrice-weekly dialysis.
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Let me thank a very generous Chinese-Filipino who’s been faithfully contributing. A big thanks also to: Renato Catalasan, Clarish Reyes, Manny Santos, Gerry Santos, Tres Roque.
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Others are very much welcome to extend financial assistance. For inquiries, e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Year, a mere repetition?
by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD
January 2, 2016
In a cartoon strip of a magazine, a young man wished his grandfather “Happy New Year.” The grandfather replied cynically: “What is new about it when every year is just a repetition of what has been happening in the past so many years?”
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I hope that the time will never come in our life when we feel the same as that grandfather. A New Year always gives us a new chance to grow as a better person, a better worker, a better husband or wife, a more virtuous Christian.
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As we begin a brand new year, let’s THANK the Lord for the graces and blessings we’ve received. Some pessimist might say, “What’s there to thank when we’re going through hard times?”
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Be positive. The trouble with some of us is that we look only for what we don’t have but overlook what we already have. Remember the poor boy who complained he had no new pair of shoes? One day he met a boy who had no feet!
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Moreover, let’s learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. A young man, for instance, who got married to a movie celebrity discovered after a few months that they were irreconcilable due to a gambling habit.
The marriage did not last long, ending sadly in an annulment at the civil court.
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Then there is this man whose business was faltering, causing him to incur huge debts. The agonizing experience was a wake-up call. He examined where he made mistakes, and made a big turn-around.
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January 1st marked the feast of the MOTHERHOOD OF MARY. The Church fittingly entrusts us to our spiritual mother right at the beginning of the year.
A mother knows best. The powerful protection of Mama Mary may be illustrated in the following apocryphal story:
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Our Lord was making His rounds in heaven. On the way, He noticed some suspicious-looking men. The Lord summoned St. Peter, the gatekeeper, and asked: “Why are these seedy characters here?”
Peter scratched his head and sheepishly replied, “Lord, I keep barring them out, but they hang around and the lady lets them in through the window.”
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“Who’s that lady?” the Lord asked. Peter pointed at the woman whose back was turned.
When the Lord approached her, he discovered it was his own mother!It was Jesus’ turn to scratch his head. Jesus could not go against his mother!
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THE LIGHTER SIDE. Three friends–a Franciscan, Jesuit, and SVD–paid homage to the Christ Child in Bethlehem. The Franciscan was interested to bring home the manger to remind his confreres of the strict poverty they profess.
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The Jesuit was more interested to have Jesus enroll at the Ateneo. Mary whispered to Joseph, “Can we afford their tuition?”
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When they looked around for the SVD, he was nowhere to be found. They discovered he ran after the 3 Kings … soliciting donations for the mission!
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GOD BLESS — our latest donors to Adopt-A-Seminarian educational program: Nieto-Rory Punzalan, Maty-Gloria Dirain, Dr. Roberto & Edith Villaseñor, Bea Rodriguez, Carol Ynares.
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Others, who wish to chip in or sponsor a seminarian’s schooling, may e-mail me at: email@example.com.
BIYERNES, ENERO 1, 2016
LABAS MALAS! PASOK BUWENAS! : Reflection for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – January 1, 2016 – JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY
Isang manigong bagong taon sa inyong lahat! Ang pagpasok ng taong 2016 ay dapat magdulot sa atin ng pag-asa sa kabila ng marami nating alalahanin sa buhay.Ano sa palagay mo? Susuwertehin ka ba sa taong ito? Kaya siguro marami sa atin ang ginagawa ang lahat ng paraan para magpapasok ng suwerte. Nariyan na ang pagbuo ng 12 prutas na bilog. Sigurado akong marami nyan sa inyong lamesa kagabi sa pagpalit ng taon. Nariyan na ang pagbili ng tikoy! Para daw mas malagkit ang kapit ng swerte! Nariyan na ang pagsusuot ng damit na kulay pula at siyempre ng polka-dots na sumisimbolo sa pera. Mas maraming polka-dots mas maraming pera ang makukuha. Nariyan na ang pagpapaputok upang itaboy ang malas at masasamang maaring mangyari sa bagong taon. Pero may payo si “Manang” sa isang text na aking natanggap tungkol sa paghahanda para di malasin ang taon: “Para di malasin ang New Year, huwag mong isali sa handa ang bilog na prutas na may itim na buto tulad ng pakwan, chico, papaya at iba pa. Huwag ka rin maghanda ng ice cream para di matunaw ang swerte at higit sa lahat huwag maghanda ng ulam na galing sa hayop na may apat na paa gaya ng baboy, baka, kambing at baka tumakbo ang swerte. Huwag din maghanda ng isda at laman dagat at baka malunod ang swerte. Huwag din maghanda ng may pakpak tulad ng manok o pabo at baka lumipad ang swerte. Huwag ka na kayang maghanda at matulog ka na lang! Happy New Year!”Masama bang sumunod sa mga pamahiing ito? Hindi naman siguro basta’t hindi namin kalilimutan na ang kapalaran ng tao ay hindi nakasalalay sa anumang pamahiin kundi sa matapat na pagsunod sa kalooban ng Diyos. At dito ay ibinibigay sa atin ang Mahal na Birheng Maria upang ating maging huwaran. Kaya marahil ang unang araw ng taon ay laging nakatuon sa pagdiriwang kapistahan ni Maria bilang Ina ng Diyos. Tinamaan ng suwerte ang Mahal na Birheng Maria sapagkat napili siya sa lahat ng mga babae upang maging Ina ng anak ng kataas-taasang Diyos! Walang ng suwerteng hihigit pa dito! Ngunit hindi ito ang talagang kadakilaan ni Maria. Nang may nagsabi kay Jesus habang siya ay nagtuturo: “Mapalad ang sinapupunang nagluwal sa iyo!” Ngunit agad niya itong itinama at sinabi “Mas mapalad ang mga taong sumusunod sa kalooban ng Diyos!” At sino ba sa lahat ng nilikha ang naging masunurin sa kalooban ng Diyos maliban sa Mahal na Birheng Maria? Mga kapatid, ang kapalaran natin sa bagong taong ito ay nakasalalay sa ating pagsunod sa kalooban ng Diyos kaya’t nararapat lamang na katulad ni Maria ay maging masunirin tayo sa Kanya. Lagi naman natin itong dinarasal “… sundin ang loob Mo, dito sa lupa para ng sa langit…” Sapat lamang na isabuhay natin ito ng may pananalig. At ano ang kalooban ng Diyos para sa atin? Simple lang, ang maging mabuti ayon sa ating katayuan sa buhay… mga tatay na mabuti sa kanilang asawa at mga anak, mga anak na mabuti sa kanilang magulang, mga kapatid na mabuti sa kanilang kapatid, mga kaibigan na mabuti sa kanilang barkada! At sa Taong ito ng Jubileo ng Awa ay tinatawag tayong maging mabuti sa pamamagitan ng paghahatid ng Kanyang Awa sa iba. Magpakita tayo ng malasakit sa ating mga kapatid na naghihirap. Magpakita tayo ng habag sa mga taong nakagawa sa atin ng masama o mga taong mayroon tayong sama ng loob. Maging maawain tayo kung papaanong ang Diyos ay naging maawain sa atin… “merciful like the Father!” Kahit hindi natin alam ang naghihintay sa atin sa bagong taong hinaharap, ang isang taong tumutupad sa kalooban ng Diyos ay walang dapat ikatakot. Kaya’t huwag nating ipagsapalaran sa mga pamahiin ang ating bukas. Kung tutularan lamang natin ang Mahal na Birhen at sasabihin din nating“mangyari nawa sa aking ayon sa wika mo…” sigurado akog LALABAS ANG MALAS AT PAPASOK ANG BUWENAS!
Ipinaskil ni kalakbay ng kabataan
NEW YEAR’S DAY: SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
HAPPY NEW YEAR! We usually greet everyone as we face the new calendar year with this affectionate compliments and well-wishes. There are good reasons to be happy and joyful. However, in the Church’s liturgical calendar, today is being celebrated as the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Thus, the first day of the new year is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of the Lord Jesus, and our Mother too.
God has chosen the Blessed Virgin Mary to effect what he wanted to do in the history of salvation. A baby boy named Jesus was in a manger with Mary, her mother and Joseph, his foster father. The shepherds went in haste to pay tribute with all their amazement on what they have experienced. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Simply, Mary was awed and was filled with wonders on what is happening even at the moment when she did not fully understand.
Mary is the Mother of God. This is considered as the greatest among the many titles of Mary. She bore in her womb and she gave birth to Jesus, our Lord and God. Let us reflect further on the divine motherhood of Mary.
First, in the context of today’s gospel, the greatness of Mary as God’s Mother can be found in her attitude toward the Word of God. The text says, “Mary kept all these things“. Keeping is another word for obeying. Mary’s fiat is a great indication of Mary’s obedience to the word of God, through the Angel Gabriel. And then, the gospel text continues, Mary was “reflecting them in her heart.” Mary cherishes the word of God. She reflects on it. She feels the joy upon receiving the word of God.
Second, Mary looked at her role being the mother of Jesus as a privilege. To become a mother of God is a privilege and and honor. It is also a vocation; a vocation that she freely and joyfully accepted. It was clear to Mary that her yes was a yes to the will of God. She knew that she was chosen as an instrument for fulfilling God’s plan for us. Thus, Mary was joyful.
Mary is also a model for all mothers. Thus, we need to reflect on her motherhood vis-a-vis the human mothers.
On the one hand, mothers can be good “teachers of the faith” to their children. Yes, in the olden days, mothers had been responsible in teaching their children how to pray, that is, the basic prayers, the Angelus, the rosary and the Bible or the Word of God. The role of mothers in this case is very crucial. We can only hope that the mothers of today can do the same, in the midst of preoccupations. Children can only be close to God if mothers (as well as fathers) are also close to God.
On the other hand, Mary reminds the married women about the privilege and vocation of motherhood. In the West, less and less children are born because of their dislike to children. In fact, some would prefer to have dogs or cats than children. Yes, we are called to care for animals, and to love them as well. But the Church reminds us that the “affection” that we give to human beings should not be translated to the animals. These pets should not be regarded as a replacement to children.
In married life, a wife goes into a process towards becoming a mother. But how can she be a mother if she does not like a child. and worse, if she prefers a dog over a child. Is it an honor for her to be called a “mother of a dog?” But if she has a child, she would hear sweet words, like, “O, she is the mother of Carlo” Or “She is the mother of Stephanie“.
The solemnity today shows the real divine motherhood of Mary. Because she bore Jesus, the Son of God, then she is truly called the Mother of God. But her motherhood extends to us, humans. She is also our mother. She is an example and model to all mothers.
January 1, 2016 Friday (from The Word in Other words)
FIRST READING: Nm 6: 22-27
The LORD said to Moses: “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
SECOND READING: Gal 4: 4-7
Brothers and sisters: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.
GOSPEL: Lk 2: 16-21
The shepherds went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things, refl ecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
IN OTHER WORDS
A calm cold night catches a band of shepherds by surprise. Heavenly voices startle them awake and send them to some animal shelter nearby where a poor young couple is taking warm refuge after a long journey. With the strangers they share astounding news. Then their contemplative gaze turns to a helpless newborn on whom rests the promise of a glorious future for all humankind.
The biblical readings during the Christmas season, such as today’s gospel, paint for us an unusual image of God. He is One who amazes, who leads faithful believers from surprise to surprise. Where and when God’s presence breaks in are commonplace. Even how and through whom God reveals often appear so ordinary. But the surprising novelty is always “what is heard and seen” –an experience that yields an unexpected insight … a message that sheds fresh light on our life story and gives new lead to our life journey.
In the 15th century a Spanish chronicler survived a fateful voyage in the Atlantic Ocean to recount its tragedy. The ship ran out of fresh water supply and the crew hastily steered its course in search of any shore where they could nd replenishment. As days passed, many began dying of thirst before the survivors could alight on rm ground. It dawned on them then that they had been sailing inland Brazil through the vast Amazon River. Too late did they realize the tragic irony of their plight: they were dying of thirst … while oating on the biggest body of fresh water in the world!
Why had no one aboard sooner perceived the novelty of their location or think of dipping down a jug into the unknown waters to taste how potable they were? The months at sea had made them all blasé … that state of mind resistant to any surprise. G. K. Chesterton would aptly describe their plight: “we are perishing not for want of wonders, but for want of wonder.”
Life is an Amazon River of God’s presence buoying us up in loving providence. Indeed, “in Him we move and live and have our being”(Acts 17:28). May the surprises of New Year 2016 slake and nurture within us a wondering prayerful faith, so that we may not perish in spiritual thirst! Pio Estepa, SVD | U.S.A. Bible Diary 2016)
January 01, 2016
Gospel: Lk 2:16-21 –
So they [shepherds] came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the feeding trough. On seeing him, they related what they had been told about the child; and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds.
As for Mary, she treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds then returned, giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the angels had told them.
On the eighth day, the circumcision of the baby had to be performed; he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
“She treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart.” The Doctors of the Church endlessly repeat that, before ever conceiving Jesus in her body, Mary conceived him in her heart. By which expression they mean to say that the affinity between Mary and Jesus was not only the physical affinity existing between any normal mother and child. It was much more than that. It was a spiritual affinity, the one uniting two minds thinking on the same wave length, two hearts loving the same values, two wills deeply aligned on God’s will. Most Christians emphasize the fact that Mary was Jesus’ physical mother. But they rarely go beyond and grasp that Mary was Jesus’ mother at such a depth that it defies our imagination. This does not mean that Mary understood Jesus perfectly, for she did not, as later gospel events will show. But she was willing to “ponder” the mystery of her Son, despite its awful incomprehensibility.
She is our unsurpassable model in this. Instead of being so busy doing all kinds of things for the Kingdom, maybe we should spend more time in solitude, pondering the things of God in our hearts…
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