Holy Mary, Mother of God, far above us sinners

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FOR ordinary Christians, there’s a sort of deep but distant reverence one might feel toward a Mother Teresa or a Padre Pio: so admirable in their sanctity, yet seemingly so far above us sinful mortals to teach us anything about struggling and failing against our sins and weaknesses every day or indeed every moment.

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Even more so must be the unreachable-star regard for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God, immaculately conceived without the original sin burdening humanity; perpetually virgin before, during and after Jesus’s birth; and being sinless, spared from death and decay, and taken body and soul to heaven when her earthly life ended, the Assumption celebrated today.

Since the First Century, early Christians believed that Mary left this world and this life in Ephesus, on the southwest coast of present-day Turkey. Saint John, to whom the crucified Jesus entrusted His mother, is said to have brought her away from Jerusalem during the persecution of the faith, which began five years after the Easter events, and by the year 42, had led to Saint Peter’s crucifixion in Rome.

Christian tradition had it that the apostle and evangelist built Mary a house on Mount Nightingale, near Ephesus. In 1891, French abbot Fr. Julien Gouyet found the ruins, guided by the visions of German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824). The house was restored and opened as a pilgrimage site cared for by the Franciscan religious order and visited by 1.5 million people yearly, including Muslims honoring Mary, called Miriam in the Koran.

Well and good. But having been blessed by heaven infinitely more than any other creature, from the moment of her conception till her last breath on earth, Mary is so uniquely favored, not even tempted as Jesus was in the desert, so as to be vastly removed from us descendants of Eve, with the sinful humanity she and Adam bequeathed to us.

And in our daily war against our fallen selves and world, it may often be more comforting to have a fellow sinner falling, rising and falling again on the slippery slope with us than an utterly spotless Madonna hovering above in dazzling light, unsoiled by the muddy earth, even as we intone, “Immaculate Mother, to you do we plead to ask God our Father for help in our need.”

Our Lady suffered with humanity

So is Mary just good for praying and kneeling, rosary beads in hand, but not the shoulder-to-shoulder lift we get from fellow fallen comrades-in-arms in our rearguard action against the daily assaults of human weakness and worldly allure?

Not so fast. In fact, the Blessed Virgin Mary, like our Lord, went through all the troubles of our human existence, so we can certainly look to her as a fellow sojourner, suffering as much, if not far more than you and me.

After all, how many of us have had to flee on mule to another country days after giving birth in amid unkempt beasts in a manger, with the king’s murderous soldiers searching for us? Or hearing from a revered temple sage that our only son would suffer and “a sword would pierce” our heart? Not to mention losing the young boy years later in the biggest city in the kingdom.

Then, of course, there was Calvary and all the gore before and after the Cross. Hearing the crowd call for our son’s crucifixion. Watching him lashed 40 times, then crowned with thorns that dig into his skull. Following him as he carried the instrument of his execution on the road to the hill of death.

Feeling in our heart every nail pounded into his wrists and feet, and every paroxysm of pain as his body tugged downward on the pierced extremities. And even after death had given Jesus peace, the horror of seeing the wounds on his mangled corpse and reliving again the agony of every bruise, laceration and spearing. Then finally consigning our lifeless son to the tomb and being enveloped by the indelible darkness of being alone.

Like us, Mary faced the test of faith

Okay, one might say, the Blessed Virgin can certainly stand with us in suffering the agonies and injustice of this world. But she’s lucky she never had to fight temptation, which we and even our Lord had to face, right?

Well, we don’t know that, since the Gospels don’t say much about Mary’s own trials. But there are a few things we can reasonably surmise.

First, the devil who didn’t spare the Son of God from his lures and blandishments, certainly would have even fewer qualms about trying to sway His human mother, though the Scriptures did not record these inducements.

Second, Mary had her uncomfortable moments with Jesus, admonishing the adolescent over His three-day disappearance, and turning to Him when wine ran out at the wedding feast in Cana, even if, as Jesus said, it was not yet His time.

Third and most important, Mary, like Jesus, faced the most difficult trial for every human being, which is life’s paramount challenge in the view of our faith: Will I believe and trust in God, and lovingly embrace His will?

So it was when the Angel Gabriel addressed her, when the Holy Family journeyed to Egypt and back to Nazareth, when Simeon spoke of future anguish for her and her Son, when that prophesy came to pass on Good Friday, and when the infant Church was persecuted after Jesus ascended to heaven.

Like Jesus at Gethsemane, Mary must have wished her tribulations away. But in the end, she reprised her Son’s loving obedience: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

As we face the very same trials of our faith, hope and love for God, Mary and Jesus are right beside us, holding our hands and hoping we too would give the answer they gave. Amen.

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14 Comments

  1. mary is a human being used by God in the virgin birth of Jesus. mary is not God.
    it’s the father, spirit and son. Amen.

  2. Maraming tao ay may mga totoong may mabuting puso at totoong gusto ipaabot ang pagmamalasakit na ma ituro ang kabutihan ng dios!
    Hindi ko lang maunawaan kung ito ba ay totoo?
    Gusto ko lang itanong kailan ba nagkaroon ng ina ang tunay na dios?
    Noong panahon nina ABRAHAM,Noah,moises,maging sa tpanahon ni CRISTO at mga apostol,wala kang nababasa o patunay na may ina ang DIOS!
    DAHIL alam ng lahat na ang tunay na DIOS ay ang pinakamakapangyarihan sa lahat ,kahit noong una pa man!lahat ay sumasamba sa kanya!
    Hindi pa ipinanganak sicristo, si Maria ay ordinaryong tao lang noon,at pinili lang siya ng dios upang siya ang maging daan upang ipanganak si cristo,
    At ng mawala na ang lahat, si cristo at mga apostol, bigla na lamang siyang naging ina ng tunay na DIOS!
    Makakabuti ba ang turong ito sa kaligtasan ng tao? O inalipusta ninyo ang totoong tunay na DIOS?

  3. Vic Penetrante on

    Joseph was made a guardian of Jesus and Mary for our sake, because people would considered the son of God as ‘illegitimate.’ Mary would have been stoned.
    Why are we too quick in considering a ‘foundling’ as not eligible for presidency?

  4. Amnata Pundit on

    Just as a reminder, here is the first of the Ten Commandments, “Do not worship other gods before me.” And the second, “Do not worship graven images.” By the way, Cory has been described by many in practically the same glowing way you described Mary. There is now a move in the Church to make her a saint, which I hope will be successful. Might Cory have been a resurrection, a temporary visit whose spiritual purpose will be made clear in due time? Just asking.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Christians believe that Jesus is Divine. Between Jesus and Mary, only Jesus is Divine. His Person is divine. Being the Mother of the Divine Person does not make the mother divine. But it sure confers such unique honor. That honor is also the pride of the whole human race.

    • Mary was never considered God by the church. Catholics honor her being the human mother of Jesus Christ. From the old testament the graven images were images of beasts and people at those times worship them. Catholics are more educated and sophisticated to know what is to worship and to honor. No catholic is worshipping graven images of beasts. All catholic know the creed to imply otherwise is ignorance.

    • Amnata Pundit on

      Catholics worship/pray to Mary, that makes her a deity. Mary can hear the millions who pray to her for intercession and she conveys these prayers/petitions to Jesus who is at the same time God the Father by the way, according to the doctrine of Holy Trinity. She is in possession of powers that belong to gods, making Her the Catholic Church Goddess, which is a transgression of the First Commandment. Graven image refers to any image made of wood, stone, metal etc, whether of animals or humans or any other form. So kneeling and praying to a statue representing Mary or even to the Cross is in contravention of the Second commandment. Those who believe in God the Father must look at the Ten Commandments as God’s constitution, His Highest Most Supreme Law and therefore all teachings must be in conformity to it, especially the first and the second since there must have been a good reason why He placed this two at the top.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      One needs to be a catholic to say what a catholic does. It takes one to know one as the truism would put it. Obviously you are not a catholic for saying that catholics “worship/pray to Mary, that makes her a deity.”

      The world “worship” is often equated with what fans do to their “idols” (celebrities). Are they making their idols dieties too? A man who idolizes his loved one is said to worship her. Does that make her a deity?

      Come on. Let’s not be that simple minded.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      From catholics to noncatholics:

      The first 3 of the 10 commandments (Love God): 1. Thou shalt not have strange gods. 2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. 3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day (Sunday=Domingo (from “Dominus” for “Lord”). The fourth to the tenth (Love your neighbor): 4. Honor your mother and father. 5. Thou shalt not kill. 6. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 7. Thou shalt not steal. 8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor. 9. Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s wife. 10. Thou shalt not covet your neighbors goods.

      You notice some differences? What you mention as “second” belongs to the “first” commandment in the catholic list. Your “graven images” are covered by “strange gods”. The early catholics were persecuted by the Romans for refusing to worship the Romans’ many gods including the emperor himself; they gave up their lives for not recanting their faith in Jesus Christ as their only God. The catholic epistles in the New Testament all reflect their practice of asking prayers from each other. This practice is included in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed (longer version of the Apostles’ Creed to focus more on the divinity of Jesus) –this practice of asking each other’s prayers is called “communion of saints.” They venerated the tombs of their martyrs and kept “relics” of their martyrs. The present St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is built with the tomb of St. Peter right below the main altar. Up to the present, the Mass always reflects this “communion of saints” while they worship God the Father thru Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus in union with the Holy Spirit. Mary is always mentioned in every Mass; that is how important Mary is in the communion of saints.

      In English, “pray” as in “Pray, tell me” simply means “Please.” Pray is even used in legal proceedings to mean the same thing as “Please, your honor.”

      Since Greek was spoken then, they have the Greek mentality of mentally distinguishing their intentions: When praying to God, they use “adoration”; when praying to Mary, they use “hyperdulia”; when praying to other saints, they use “dulia”. Hyperdulia is a notch above dulia, but both mean “veneration” and not “adoration”. Only adoration or worship is properly directed to God the Father through, with, and in Jesus in union with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      From catholics to noncatholics 2.0
      Commandment #10 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, wife, properties, slaves, etc. The catholic list: 9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. 10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

      Notable is the separation of the neighbor’s wife from all the other properties. This is indicative of the greek mindset of using one’s mind or reason. Because Mary has been elevated by God Himself to such a unique pedestal, could other women be far behind? Time to recognize that women are not properties or objects or tools! Time to recognize that “neighbor” does not only refer to men or husbands. Women are neighbors too.

      Amnata Pundit, you ask (just asking?) if Cory was a resurrection of Mary? Such a snide question loses its sting when you consider that it took a woman to wrest the country from the clutches of dictatorship. And now, sadly, that same country is back in the clutches of a dictator– a man who is not even a husband. Does he hate women (misogynist is Greek for one who hates women)? Does this man love Hacienda Luisita so much that it has become his god (anything that consumes one’s life is a god; strange god indeed!)? Or is it the money that Luisita represents? Love of mammon (money) is indeed the root of all evil. Love of God and love of Mammon cannot coexist. Those are 2 contradictory masters. Money has been such a tool for this dictator in all his endeavors. One only wished he had used his very own money for his strange ends. One should not overlook the fact that Mamasapano(t) happened on Cory’s special day! It is ironic that his tools for BaBeL are women; his tools at the DOJ, COA, BIR, SC, are women. His much sought-after tool for 2016 is also a woman. Do you think that Mary would look kindly on women being used as tools (fools)? Mary happens to be the Patroness of the Philippines! There is still time to repent, women-tools!!!

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Your sophistry can be demonstrated this way: Cory was the mother of the present president. Therefore Cory is/was president. While it is true that the presidency of the Philippines is common to both mother and son, the presidency does not confer on them this mother-son relationship. This makes your reasoning about Mary being God fallacious. So the question that should be asked is: What is it that makes Mary the Mother of God? Of course, since you reject the question outright, there is really no point in proceeding further, is there?

      But just for the sake of demonstrating that people do have the capacity to use their mind in a way that enables all human beings to say, “Yes, that is exactly what I think too,” let us reason together. A woman gives birth to a baby boy. The woman becomes mother of the baby. The baby grows up. The baby’s mother is still the mother of the grown up. What is the basis of this mother-son relationship that makes their relationship endure? Nurture? Feelings? Sacrifice? Love? While all these may be true for the mother (mental illness excepted), these may get lost on the son in time. Will the mother-son relationship ever stop? Most people would say, no (except in cases of legal erasure, e.g., mother disowns her son, or the son divorces his mother). Let us stick to the normal situation though. What is legal is just based on laws made by society. It is often said that not everything legal is moral.

      Arthur, you admit that you are a person, I hope. Your mother is the mother of you, a person. Your personhood is what endures. Your mother will always be the mother of Arthur no matter what.

      Mary is the mother of the Person of Jesus Christ. For those who believe that Jesus is both human and divine, Mary is still the mother of the Person of Jesus. For those who believe that Jesus is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Mary is still the mother of the Person of Jesus who is God. The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 conferred on Mary this title of “Theotokos” (Greek for Mother of God). The Ephesians held a triumphal procession when they heard the Council’s verdict. It was definitely according to what they already believed.

    • It’s not correct. Mary is the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. She is the human mother whom God has chosen to fulfill the works of salvation. That kind of philosophy contrived thru the limitations of human mind who has no capacity to rise beyond what is finite is exactly the opposite of faith. Mary is no coincidence in the salvation equation. By her immaculate conception, the virgin birth became possible. Blessed are you among women…not any women’s willingness can. She deserved to be respected and honored or venerated not subjected to philosophical limitations.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      The human mind is also God’s creation. The mind detests anything that has an inherent contradiction: square circle, for example, is rejected by the human reason. The human reason will only trust if it cannot find a contradiction. Faith is possible, because the human reason does not find anything contradictory in what is to be believed. There is a seamless interface between reason and faith. Otherwise it would be a real “blind” faith. A faith that is blind negates the power of reason as God’s creation, and slaps the Creator with an insult as if to say “God,you have made all human beings robots.” Can robots really have faith? Even a robot would say “No, dummy!”

      For an article of faith to be rendered reasonable, one has to start with believing it first. Then let the mind probe. Probing does not negate or in any way diminish faith; faith actually helps the mind to understand as far as reason can go and provide “a reason for our hope”(1 Peter 3:15). To call it “philosophy” would cause a modern mind’s misunderstanding of the legitimate probe, because “philosophy” has been removed from its pristine meaning of “phil”(love of) “sophia” (wisdom) and relegated to the modern “searches” for all kinds of “rationalization” which equates philosophy with all kinds of “isms”. Before all these “isms” came to be, there was love of wisdom that has come down to us as the “Summa Theologiae” of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is strictly referred to as “scholastic philosophy” which is not one of the modern “isms”. Metaphysics is a branch of scholastic philosophy where the mind is not limited to the “finite” but probes beyond the empirical.