Tag Archives: liturgical Year

Holy Week Tues: Why was the bridegroom so late.

108505652_b7ca73a371_zChrist proclaimed Himself to be the Bridegroom. In the Icon of Christ the Bridegroom He is sitting with His wrists tied, crowned with thorns and in the red robe with the whip marks on his body and holding the reed. In Orthodox Jewish weddings and Eastern Rite and Orthodox weddings the bride and groom wear the crown and their wrists are bound with the stole of the priest or rabbi. I love the symbolism of that. I wish the Latin Rite had it.

Jesus tells a few parables in which wedding banquets play a part, but the one that we tend to consider on Holy Tues is the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids. The bit in that parable that I wonder about is “The bridegroom was late” He didn’t turn up when expected.

This is one of those double layered revelations of the both/and kind which Catholic apologists are so fond of.  How often do we hear, in response to a question, “It’s not either/or it’s both/and.” ?

Jesus was late. The people had been waiting for a Messiah since a saviour was promised to Eve and they had been waiting for the throne of David to be eternal since the death of Solomon. It’s a long time to wait.

In the meantime Israel had been scattered among the gentiles and only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin now lived in the Holy Land with a remnant of Levi and an even smaller remnant of the ten lost tribes of Israel.  If all Israel was to be saved where was the Saviour?

So by the time He turned up quite a few people had given up on His appearance all together and those who had not, even among the apostles, had made up their own image of who the Messiah would be and what He would do.

There was many a dry lamp in Judea.

So Jesus was rejected and crucified.

But “He will come again to judge the living and the dead and His Kingdom will have no end.” (Apostles Creed and Nicene/Constan Creed)

Here we are 2000+ years later and He is still not come. So how many of us have decided He won’t be coming? And how many have made up their/our own idea of just what that Second Coming had better consist of?

It’s increasingly difficult today, it seems to me, to keep the pure olive oil burning and topped up when there are so many religious snake oil salesmen out there. We must pray for discernment every day.

But when it’s so difficult to keep the lamps alight why is the Bridegroom late? Why doesn’t He come early instead? I wonder if the problem is us.

Weddings take a lot of preparation. So the Wedding Banquet of the Bridegroom will take a lot more preparation. If we aren’t getting prepared, we aren’t ready for Him to arrive – and so He’ll be late. But in the end He’ll turn up whether we’re ready or not. So as He is giving us the chance to get cleaned up, wear the proper wedding cloths and get some oil in our lamps, perhaps we should start getting ready.

Epiphany: manifestation of the Lord

It’s Twelfth Night, the feast of Epiphany in the Latin Rite.  This feast comes just before the Baptism of the Lord on the Liturgical Calender. Both of these events are manifestations of Christ the Messiah.

The magi come from the east, from the lands of the gentiles and bring with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Symbols of kingship, priesthood and prophecy. Oil of myrrh would have been used to anoint the bodies of the dead.

Balsam of Myrrh is still used today in the sacramental oils for baptism, Confirmation (Chrismation Eastern Rite) Holy Orders and Sacrament of the Sick.

Incense is of course still used as a sign of sanctification and prayer as it was in the Temple and the Vision of St. John (Revelation).

The magi came, it is thought, because in the appearance of the star they saw the fulfilment of the prophesy of Balaam (the bad prophet who made an ass of himself while his ass spoke with dignity) Despite his best efforts to take a bribe and prophesy against Israel he was, as a real prophet, saddled with infallibility to some extent so when  he spoke he couldn’t help tell the truth and bless Israel.  (Num 24:17 and surrounding verses). It is also suggested that they had on record the great prophesy of Daniel which he gave to the gentiles and recognised that they were in the time of the iron and clay feet. *Dan 2:33 and surrounding verses).

They saw and understood and travelled a huge distance to find the King of the Jews.  They visited Herod and we often tend to dwell on the fact that Herod wanted to kill the baby after this, but something nastier happened, it seems to me. The wise men of the Temple came with the Scriptures they had and they too recognised the prophesy. “He will be born in Bethlehem…” they say. The gentile pagans head off to find the child and the men of the Temple don’t go with them! I am quite sure they knew it would have been politically inexpedient to do so. But still, the apathy shocks me. I suppose it’s a bit like the way non-practicers turn up for Christmas Mass or Services while some Christian denominations have been closing their churches for Christmas.

Most of Christ’s childhood and early adult years are “hidden” to us. He is next made manifest when, at the important age of thirty he comes to John to be baptised. Christ is a son of David of Judah. John is a Levite priest, son of a High Priest.

God took away the priesthood of the fathers and first born sons of Israel after the Golden Calf incident. Only the Levites, relatives of Aaron, Moses and Miriam had stood (more or less) firm and God gave the priesthood only to the sons of Levi.

The first non-Levite priest after that was King David and then Solomon, of the tribe of Judah.

The law of the Levitical priesthood was that a man could not come to ordination before the age of thirty. Most men were ordained at that age.

Jesus came to John the priest when He was thirty years old and received the baptism of John. At that moment God speaks and John bears witness to the people about Jesus, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

Jesus is the Son of David, a prophet, priest and king like David. Jesus is more of all of those things for He is The Prophet, The High Priest and The King, not just of the Jews, but of all the nations.

Side note: I’ve come across some confusion over the baptism of John and  the Baptism commanded by Christ when He returned to the Father. You will find in Scripture that the apostles baptised those who they found who had only received the baptism of John because his baptism was different.  The baptism of John did not affect circumcision into the Law whereas the Sacrament of Baptism instituted by Christ replaced circumcision (hence St. Paul’s argument against the Judaizers who wanted gentile converts to get circumcised as well as baptised). P’haps I need to do a proper blog about baptism…

3rd of Advent end of Hanukkah; Rejoice and have hope in the darkness

30219_Silver_Plated_Oil_MenorahAs we light the third candle – that pink one of joyousness, our Jewish brothers and sisters are lighting the eighth candle of Hanukkah. At this point the oil of the old Temple Menorah, which should only have lasted one day before plunging the Temple back into darkness, had lasted all eight days it took to make new oil. Then it could quietly run out in time for the new oil to be added to the lamps. The light stayed as the people of Israel reconsecrated their sacred things and the Temple to the Lord and then they could rejoice in their new freedom. They had lost so many good men and women and children under the darkness of Antiochus Epiphanes. Perhaps they mourned the unnamed mother who is remembered more than 2000 years on as she suffered the martyrdom of her seven sons and lost her own life after them. Her light still shines in many hearts.

We can rejoice that the Light is going to dawn. There will not always be darkness and for so many of us we can relax and know Christmas will be a time for joy.

But my heart and prayers go out to those who face a dark Christmas. I can’t imagine the indescribable pain for the families of those murdered in the school shooting in Connecticut. How can such evil happen? Why do people make such astounding choices and destroy so much for so little reason?

479983_213167592152057_1962316465_nCan we find joy, and true hope in the midst of such deliberate darkness? I think we have to. Christ has promised us so much if we persevere and in the shooting there are names that shall never be forgotten. Even in what can seem the deepest evil and darkness bright lights shine. So many people turn back to God and pray at these times and we ask that He welcome all those killed home. For many there is a crown of glory for they lay down their lives for the little ones.

There will be many unnamed heroes in this atrocity. Families who care for one another and stand by one another. Priests who ran to care for victims, children who held on bravely with their friends. We may never hear their stories this side of heaven, but they are happening.

Rejoice and have hope for such people do exist in our world. Thank God for them.

Joy is not about being happy, it’s about being blessed.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Woman Clothed with the Sun with the moon under her feet (Rev 12)

our_lady_of_guadalupe_4x6Dec 12th is the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Dec 9th would have been the feast of St Juan Diego but it fell on 2nd Advent Sun this year)

That God in His love and mercy has given us such a mother is wonderful all by itself, but that He allows her, sends her, to speak with us and leaves us a beautiful Icon should make us even more grateful.

While it is true that private revelation is not binding on the faithful, I think we should be cautious about using that as an excuse to ignore what God is giving us when He sends Our Blessed Mother and/or other saints to remind us of the Gospel message.

bent-crucifix-cc-odoyle81The tilma made of cactus ayate  fibre is still in great condition and the image remains clear despite some accidents; one with nitric acid and the time someone tried to blow it up. In fact despite being on open display for many years under candle flame and incense, before even a glass covering was made, the tilma image is in much better condition that the Mona Lisa and is only 12 years younger than Leonardo’s famous painting. The great crucifix that was bent right over by the explosion is now on display. The glass covering of the tilma remained in tact.

On Dec 12th 1531 Juan Diego was sent to the barren cold top of Tepayac Hill where he gathered an astonishing harvest of big castellan roses that had suddenly appeared there.

StarThe Icon shows a woman dressed as royalty, but with her head bowed as one in service. The black ribbon that hangs under her prayerful hands shows that she is pregnant. More than that, thanks to some study of the stars on her mantel we see she is carrying the constellations from that very date. She wears the crown of stars (Corona borealis) and under her hands (invisibly) is Leo showing that she carries the Lion of Judah and above that over her heart is virgo saying she is a virgin.

There were more scientific studies that show the eyes of the Icon have the reflections of a real eye showing the bishop and Juan Diego in her eyes. The minute and realistic distortions of the images in her eye show something so accurate that no artist could have done this.

At the time the Indians understood the image better than the Spanish did. They read graphics like words. The tilma is as packed with information about her. She wears the cross of the Christians and the robes of a princess. She is robed in the sun and stands on the moon, so she is greater than their gods, but she bows her head with the cross on her neck and therefore is accepting a God greater still.

Up until this point the missionaries in Mexico and surrounding areas were having a tough time converting the native peoples. Their work was hampered by the unChristian behaviour of many of the Spanish and Portuguese settlers who, feeling that Rome and her rules was far away, took slaves and spent more time chasing gold than seeking the kingdom.

But after the apparition and the miraculous image was left, millions of people learned about how much God loved them and how He had even given them a Mother and they were baptised.

It was this image that was taken into the battle of Lepanto and her prayers that gave victory on the Feast of the Holy Rosary 1571.

I love the way God sends His mother at times of crisis. He sends her and raises up some ordinary person like St. Juan Diego or the children of Fatima, Lourdes, La Salette and so on. Mary appears clothed in the sun at a point where in Europe the book of Revelation is under attack. God has a gentle sense of humour I think.

It’s great to have a wonderful mother.

Oh no not the Immaculate Conception! What is it again?

Let’s start at the very beginning

A very good place to start

When you read you begin with A B C

It’s Adam and Eve in theology…

Ahem, yes that was really awful, but I couldn’t resist. So let’s start with Adam and Eve.

God created the heavens and the earth “all that is visible and invisible! (Nicene Creed). Then on the evening of Day 6 He created Adam out of the “red earth” (Adam means red earth) and gave him authority. How do we know Adam received authority from God? Adam named the animals. In Jewish thought, and strictly speaking this should still be Christian thought, naming is a sign of authority. Names are important, they carry meaning.

Adam doesn’t find a fit companion among the animals so God makes Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. To paraphrase St. Edith Stein; God didn’t take from Adam’s head that he might rule over her, or from a bone in his foot that he might trample her underfoot, but from a bone close to his heart that he might love her.

Now, I have a little theory on this – take it or leave it. I think God took the rib from Adam’s right side, nearest his heart to make Eve. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

I would like to believe that Adam bore a scar on his right side where the rib had been taken.

Adam named his bride Eve, the mother of all that live.

Adam and Eve sinned and God cursed Satan. “I will put enmity between you and the woman…you will bite at her heel and (he/she/they/it) will crush your head.” (There’s still a discussion on the proper translation of the word s’he it; I tend to lean towards the word “she” and I’ll explain why).

With the curse, God gave the Promise of a Saviour.

Then there’s the whole of the Covenant testaments as God made new Covenants with Noah, Abraham, Jacob/Israel and then Moses. Gradually God trains His Chosen people and reveals Himself a little more along the way.

Types of Mary occur through Scripture. Jael who put the tent-peg through the head of the enemy, (jdg 4:21) then Judith who beheaded the enemy (Jud 13) and an unnamed woman who dropped a massive stone block on the head of the enemy coming to attack Jerusalem. (can’t remember where this is in Scripture)

Then there’s the importance of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark is the great sign of God’s Covenant with Israel. It is made beautifully with gold, and more gold lining the inside.  The Ark contained the Law that God gave to Moses – His Word written by His hand; some manna- the bread from heaven and the rod of Aaron the High Priest.

So the groundwork is laid.

Now to the story of how Mary came to be conceived.

In the Protoevangelium of James we find Joachim and Anna who are good, saintly people but have never been blessed with a child. This theme is also found in the Old Testament; Sarah was barren until Isaac was given her, Rachel was barren until Joseph and Benjamin; Hannah was barren until Samuel…and so on.

The elders of the Temple gave Joachim a hard time because having no children seemed like a punishment from God.

After much heart ache and prayer, finally God sends an angel to tell Joachim that his wife will bear him a child. In this case, unusually, the promise is a daughter.

So Mary was conceived.

Some people have asked “how”? They are asking if she was conceived in the usual way, or miraculously. It is generally agreed that Mary’s conception happened in the usual way. Let’s not forget that God invented sex. Adam and Eve were built physically as people are today.

So why ask if Mary was conceived miraculously? It goes back to Adam and Eve.

Back in the Garden Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. They were man and wife. It doesn’t seem they had relations at this point. In fact from rabbinic tradition, it would have been proper to wait until Adam had made the sacrifice to claim his bride. Adam didn’t make the sacrifice – he ate the fruit instead. The tree of life remained untouched.

Then Adam and Eve covered themselves and we all know they covered up the sexual. life giving parts because they had consumed “death” with that fruit.

As a result sex between married couples will always be less than it could have been and brining forth life more difficult.

Blessed Catherine Anne Emmerich’s visions do suggest a miraculous conception of Mary. but there have been a number of issues with the recording of her visions – as someone else did it . Some man whose name I can’t remember.

Anway. Mary is conceived. So what makes her conception “immaculate”?

God, her saviour, fills her with grace just as He had done with Eve. She is the Second Eve, as her Son will be the Second Adam. She still has free will, just as Eve did, but she retains her sinlessness. The Second Adam will embrace the Tree of Life, as the first Adam did not, and He will pour out His Precious Blood for His Bride the Church. Mary is a model of the Church, the Bride. And of course the last pouring out of Blood an water comes from the side of Christ, between His ribs and I believe He was pierced on the right side for the vision of Ezekial saw water flow from the right side of the Temple and Jesus had already equated Himself with the Temple. God is neat.

Why does she need to be without sin?

It is said that strictly she didn’t “need” to be sinless but it is fitting she should be. It is also one of those things God would do. He’s good like that. Just as the inside of the Ark was of purest gold before it received the word of God, the Bread from heaven, and the symbol of priesthood – so Mary is purest gold before she can conceive the Son of God being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.

She is the Ark of the New Covenant.

This is another reason she remains ever virgin. Just as no one would empty the old Ark and put a couple of good books in there, so no one could enter the womb that bore Jesus because, like the place in the Temple that was the Holy of Holies, no one but the High Priest could enter.

When she bears the Word of God, Satan does get his head stomped on.

Understanding the role of Mary means spending a lot of time with Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers. Once we get to understand her, fully human and utterly saved and loved, and loving she will point us to her Son, fully human and fully Divine. That is her primary role – to point us to Her Son.

I heard a very angry man on Catholic Answers who was absolutely furious at the notion of Mary being sinless. Personally I rather like the fact that God really is that generous towards His mother.

Christ the King and off to Advent.

It was the feast of Christ the King yesterday. The salvation history story comes to it’s end with the return of the King. Christ comes as the Just Judge and there is  the triumph of His Kingship.

This feast is one of those “already and not yet” things about Christ. He is already King, but He hasn’t fully revealed Himself as such and won’t until He comes in glory.

Then He will perform the General Judgement and after the Judgement there will be Heaven and Hell. All those souls in purgatory enter heaven and all is done.

We have pointers in Scripture and Tradition that God is merciful, but He is also Judge. Christ is our brother but He is also our King. He is glorious and powerful and according to Scripture He will come and kick some butts. We are supposed to make sure it isn’t ours.

In Divine Office and Mass readings we have come to the end of the story with John’s Revelation (Apocalypse).  Christ has fulfilled His Mission and is the King of Kings.

If we are going to meet Christ the King and be part of the Church Triumphant in heaven we have to “seek first the Kingdom”. If we aren’t seeking the kingdom, we will find it might difficult to find the king.

The Scripture stories have come from the darkest days of persecution through the Prophecies of Daniel and the stand of the Maccabees, through the war in heaven and Satan wanting to destroy the Child of the Woman. Then at last to the great Triumph. It is promised. God always keeps His promises.

All Saints and All Souls

All religions are not the same. It’s a bizarre fallacy to suggest they are, and yet it’s one that gets bandied about all too frequently.

The Catholic Church has been around for over 2000 years and she”s had her ups and downs and plenty of people have tried to destroy her. All have failed both from within and without.  She still stands and Christ promised the gates of the underworld would not prevail.

God has poured out His grace in the most extraordinary way over some of her members. Looking at the very best fruit the Church has produced leaves quite an impact. Has any other religion or organisation produced the likes of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Thomas Aquinas, St Teresa of Avila, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Padre Pio, and the list goes on. In every generation God has raised up bright shining lights to remind us of His Presence and strength. In His Name they heal the sick, teach the Truth, suffer for us and even raise the dead (St. Catherine of Siena famously demanded a doctor who had died of the plague, that he get up immediately and continue the work. He did so).

The famous case of Gemma Di Giogio born without pupils and therefore totally blind is another witness. I think she’s still alive isn’t she? Padre Pio through God’s grace gave her 20/20 vision. She still has no pupils and doctors and scientists have no material answer for her impossible sight.

Along with the miracle welding magnificent saints we have the quieter, more gentle saints like The Little Flower who accepted a great deal of personal suffering and offered it up as St. Paul said we should. St. Faustina who was the soul who carried the cross to mitigate the horror of the coming world war, Blessed Anna Marie Taigi, a little housewife who advised the great and the good with the graces she received and the suffering she offered.

The Church has just canonised Kateri Techakwitha, the first Native American saint. Her story is one of great goodness and courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

There are so many martyrs over the last 2000 years that it is easily understood why St. John in his vision of Revelation couldn’t count them. All those saint in heaven alive in Christ are praying their heavenly socks off for us. Thank God for that.

The greatest saint ever, is Our Lady. She is full of grace thanks to the mercy of God and as the New Ark she offers us her Son and points us to Him at all times. She as there at the birth of our Saviour (obviously) and was there at the birth of His Bride the Church, that Pentecost Sunday.

I genuinely do not know of another religion, that has saints of this calibre over so long, apart from, perhaps the Eastern Orthodox.

Why do so many people spend all their time looking at the Judases when we have these lights to guide the way? It’s pretty odd to look down at the fruit that fell from the tree and rots on the ground while the tree still bears an abundance of good fruit, if only they could look up once in a while.

Tomorrow is All Souls, when we remember not just the Church Triumphant, as today, but the Church Suffering. Those holy souls who are, as St. Paul describes, having the straw burned away so only the gold remains, for nothing unholy can enter heaven. It must all be left behind.

The Dormition/Assumption is a promise for our future.

It’s the solemnity of the Assumption today.

She is the first of all the people God has created to receive her resurrected body, and as such she is a sign and promise to the rest of us that we too will arise and receive a renewed body. The separation of body and soul is a product of death not Life.

The question of whether Our Blessed Mother died before she was Assumed remains unanswered. However,  it seems from the tradition of the Church (both East and West) that she did die first. Her tomb was in Ephesus, although the sarcophagus has apparently been moved to Gethsemane now.

Some people have suggested that she didn’t need to die as neither Enoch not Elijah died. However, I think the story of the two prophets who will return to herald the Second Coming is a bit different. The prophecies about these two returning say they will die as martyrs then and be raised again three days later.

As Christ died, who was without sin, so it is fitting that His mother, sharing in all He does should also die first. In the East they have called this “falling asleep” which is a beautiful way of saying she wasn’t claimed by death but was then given the gift of full resurrection by her Son and taken to heaven.

Christ spoke against the Sadducees who denied the possibility of the Resurrection, but they didn’t listen (apparently). In His treatment of Our Blessed Mother, He offers a proof of the Resurrection that awaits us all.  I think there are even Christians who deny the possibility, so this is a good reminder.

If you want a better explanation of the Assumption – watch Dr Scott Hahn.

My Lent reading – on Dr. Takashi Nagai, A Song for Nagasaki.

Fr Paul Glynn is the author of A Song For Nagasaki which I am reading for Lent.  I have read that the cause for the canonisation of Dr Takashi Nagai is under way. I hope to see the day he is canonised.

Fr Glynn, I believe, spent a lot of time in Japan and certainly seems to know the language, culture and people well. He writes the story of the Doctor around the long history and the tales of Catholics and persecution there.

This might be made into a short film on the 26 martyrs of Nagasaki. I think one of the men crucified was a teenaged boy.

You can see the films progress and offer some support HERE at ALL THAT REMAINS

Back to the dust

It’s Lent and purple is a lovely colour. I’m giving up the usual so that I don’t forget what I’ve decided to do.  We went to Mass yesterday and received the ashes to remind us that we are both body and soul, material and spiritual and that the body will return to the earth from which it came. But we are not dualists. We do not profess a soul trapped in a body as though the body is merely a material overcoat to the soul. And we do not swing off the other way that the body is merely an animated machine. We are one person body, mind and soul.

From the very beginning the Church has used materials – the stuff of life – to remind us and teach us that God made the world and it is good.

The sacramentals of the Church are part of the God’s story for us. We receive the burned palms as ash on our heads as a sign that we recognise that we are sinners and we know that leads to the death. Then at the beginning of Holy Week we have the palms in our hand reminding us that those who called Jesus king one day, called for His crucifixion only a few days later – and we are like them.

As Avila has been looking at the sacramentals as part of her RE, I’ve picked up more of an interest in them. I’ve always had a bit of an interest as my MA dissertation was focused on how children with special needs, especially developmental delay, can access the Sacraments. When I worked with children with serious disorders including autism, that meant they had little or no spoken language, a multisensory approach was vitally important. In fact the Children’s Hospice I worked in had a multisensory room.

The Church in both her Latin and Eastern Rites is beautifully set up so that all people, no matter how much language or learning they have can be fed and nurtured. We have icons, windows, statues, the shape and colour of the Church. The liturgical colours to mark the year, the candles, tabernacle and incense to see, touch and smell and of course the Blessed Sacrament to taste and see that the Lord is good. We have water and oils and then we use our bodies in prayer. Those whose body works stand before God, sit and listen and kneel in adoration. We genuflect and bow before God and of course we make the Sign of the Cross on our own bodies. At the Gospel we make another Sign of the Cross; making a cross on our foreheads, lips and chest silently praying that we will think, speak and love the Gospel.

We give something up for Lent because our bodies are just as important in our relationship with God as our minds and souls. In giving up chocolate or alcohol or whatever we choose to do without, we are not saying those things are bad (chocolate is soooo good) but we are saying that God is better.  We give up a little of the good for more of the best.

Epiphany

Happy Epiphany to you. With the new way the Masses work now we wont actually be celebrating it until Sunday. In fact our MC was trying to work out how long he could live the crib scene up with the Magi in. They are heavy and he wanted to have his time-worth after lugging them into place. I suggested Candlemass (hehehe).

Should have read the children The Legend of Old Befana today and made some sugar coal or something. But we didn’t. Tomorrow maybe.

The Assumption of OBM / the Dormition of the Theotokos.

I am not an apologist. I am afraid that I just wouldn’t have the patience for it. I truly admire the patience and sheer perseverance of people like Jimmy Akin and Time Staples et al that can over and over again explain the same thing.

It’s the feast day of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother today. The day she was taken bodily to heaven, having worked so hard and suffered so much so that her Son could redeem us.

The Tradition that Our Lady was went to heaven body and soul goes back to the beginning with plenty of Church Father’s writing about it. But there are still some people who get it into their heads that Pope Pius XII suddenly came up with idea and promulgated it out of the blue in 1950. Of course, this is not true. Pius simply sealed the doctrine in Munificentissimus Deus.

We know from the Old Testament that God took two men, Enoch and Elijah, body and soul and they had not died. I don’t actually think the fact that these two men were taken in the way they were is quite the same as how Mary was assumed, although it could be.

The question that is often asked is whether Mary died first or whether, like Elijah she was taken and never died. The Church remains silent on the matter. My personal view, which you can take or leave, is that she did die and then she was resurrected to heaven.

Those who argue against her death first say that death came into the world because of the sin of Adam and Eve and that Mary, the Second Eve did not sin and therefore did not need to die. I think this is a very good argument but the reasons I tentatively disagree (I am still wavering) are that Jesus died and that there is an empty tomb in Ephesus that has a long tradition it was Mary’s. It could be argued that she suffered so much at the foot of the cross that she did not have to die as the first only human to be sinless (Jesus is human and divine of course). While in the West we are still a bit “did she, didn’t she?” about whether Our Lady died

Prophecy has it that Enoch and Elijah will return and will die martyrs before the end, so even they have some sort of destiny that involves dying.

The other reason I think she died first is that she appears to have received her resurrected body. She is the firstborn of the promise Christ made of our resurrection. When Saint John sees her as the Ark of the Covenant (Rev 12) She is magnificent appearing as she a person who has received all the Promises of Christ about the resurrection.

It is also seen that most of the Church Fathers believed Mary died first and in pictures of the Dormition of the Theotokos she is often seen semi-shrouded.

The title Theotokos means God-Bearer, which I think of one of Our Lady’s most beautiful titles. In her appearance at Kibeho in Africa she called herself Mother of the Word, which can be seen as part of her title as Theotokos.

May she keep praying for us. We need it.

Baptism now saves you, St Peter tells us.

We have barely got used to the idea that the Magi came to see the baby (or possinly toddler) Jesus, and thanks to Herod the Holy Family had to flee into exile in Egypt, when we come to the Baptism of Our Lord.

From His Baptism Jesus heads off to the desert for forty days and meets The Accuser.

A long time ago I sat in a tent to hear a speaker, who got up and pompously spoke about how unlike those other dark-reasoned Christians (and he particularly disliked Catholics) he, would not allow his child to be baptised but would do it “the way Jesus did.”

If I had been more on-tthe-ball I mighthave jumped up and pointed out that Jesus never did it. He never baptised anyone. But I didn’t.

I think this man had confused the baptism of John with the Trinitarian baptism Jesus asked His apostles to perform just before He ascended to heaven. They obeyed Him and that included baptising those they found who had only received the baptism of John. That baptism was purely symbolic, but the baptism of Christ gives actual Grace, as St Peter tells the Church (1Pet 3:21) Baptism now saves you.

John’s baptism didn’t save. It was pre-Covenantal as Jesus hadn’t yet begun His ministry,let alone established the New Covenant in His Blood. So what was the point in all those people walking into the Jordan and getting wet?

John was turning people around, making crooked moral paths straight and preparing the way for Jesus to lead the people to salvation. John called people to repentance, so those who received his baptism had to have reason enough to understand they needed to repent of actual sins.

I am not sure about this, but I think it is reasonable to say that John’s baptism did not effect Original Sin because it did not save. Jesus is the Second Adam, and it is only through Him and His saving action that we can receive a baptism that returns the Grace lost through Adam’s sin.

Certianly John’s baptism prefigures  Christian baptism, but it is not the same. St Luke in Acts tells us that whole families were baptised and brought into the Church, whereas we are not given that impression or information about John’s baptism, which is portrayed more as individuals making a symbolic gesture of repentance for actual sin. Christ’s baptism is the rite into the New Covenant as circumcision of 8 day old boys was for the Old Covenant. Now anyone can be baptised.

I think there’s a lot about Christian baptism replacing circumsion and us being children of the Eighth Day that I could go into – but perhaps at a later time.

Get my Little Lesson on Jesus being baptised by John

And Life of Christ cards from That Resource Site Mother

Home Education on Epiphany.

It’s the feast of the Epiphany today and for Latin Rite Catholics and most other Christians this is the 12th and last day of Christmas. However some Latin Rite Catholics like to keep Christmas until the Feast of the Presentation in February.

For our Eastern Rite brethren and most Orthodox Christians Christmas Day is tomorrow.

Christmas and Easter have had different dates since the beginning I believe.

Epiphany comes from the Greek word “epiphania” which means ‘manifestation’ or ‘appearance’. If I was a good HE mum I would have had the children writing out the Greek word today – but I’m not and I didn’t.

I do like to tell them the traditional story of the men coming from Babylon/Chaldea, which is now Iraq and travelling after the star to seek the baby King of the Jews.

Matthew tells us they came and brought gifts of gold, Francincence and myrrh, so the tradition began that there were three magi – one for each gift. Nevertheless we don’t know how many came and I heard once that some Russian stories have as many as 12 magi.

In Italy they remember the old story of Befana and so we have the Story of Old Befana by good ol’ Tomie dePaola. If you are interested in this book just click on the book in my left sidebar and check it out at Amazon or shop around.

MORE FREEBIES on offer.

 I am still producing freebies. Check out That Resource Site blog very regularly to get them, or if it’s easier you can check out my page on their site, but don’t miss out on the great and growing amount of resources That Resource Family offer; it’s all free but remember they are living off one wage, so if you can donate, please do so :)

I’ve added shopping list and budget pages and borrowed books and resources pages that a couple of families have requested.