Monday, December 31, 2012

THE MOTHERHOOD OF MARY

Our Lady of Penafrancia, Naga City, Camarines Sur, Philippines
(Stainglass, at the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Penafrancia)


JANUARY 1, SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD...Why do we Catholics and Orthodox hold the Mary the Mother of God so dear, and perhaps some of our protestant friends do not fully understand why we call Mary, a human being like us, the Mother of God. How can God who is from eternity have a human mother? Perhaps in this simple post may I be allowed to share some simple apologetics to explain why we call Mary' ever-Virgin, the Mother of God. 

The divine motherhood of Mary does not stand independently on its own as a concept and as a dogma. It is linked and solely based on the concept of what the nature of Christ is which Human and Divine. The church has definitively taught us that there are two natures in Christ, one Divine and the other Human, but though having two natures, Christ is one. There can be no divine or human Christ but simply one Jesus Christ with two natures. Thus when Mary conceived and bore Jesus in her womb, she became the mother of Jesus, who is both God-Man. Thus, Mary by this singular action and by cooperating with God's will and plan became the Mother of God. The Greeks have a beautiful term for this, Theotokus or meaning, "the God-Bearer". 
This doctrine of the Motherhood of Mary, gradually acquired stability in the early centuries of the Church, during the so-called period of Christological controversies. Sometime in the 4th Century there were speculations and widespread heretical teaching called Arianism, which hold to the idea that Christ was only human and lesser in nature as compared to the Father. Then later the heresy of Nestorianism arose. Nestorianism, the heresy profounded by Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople held to the disunion between the nature of Christ. This controversy were settled by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. and by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 which ultimately led to a schism. Both council affirmed the true nature of Christ and thereby affirmed the role of Mary as Mother of God. 
Here is an excerpt from: CNA
The Council of Ephesus (431) attributed to Mary the title, Mother of God. This needs to be read against the Council's declaration that in Christ there are two natures, one divine and one human, but only one person. Indeed, according to the Council the holy virgin is the Mother of God since she begot according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh. This decision was further explained by the Council of Chalcedon (451) which says with regard to Mary's divine motherhood:
"...begotten from the Father before the ages as regards his godhead, and in the last days, the same, because of us and because of our salvation begotten from the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, as regards his manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten..."

To Jesus through Mary. Our love and devotion to Mary is linked so intimately to our concept and our faith in Jesus as the Son of God.

"..
.begotten from the Father before the ages as regards his godhead, and in the last days, the same, because of us and because of our salvation begotten from the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, as regards his manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten..."
To Jesus through Mary. Our love and devotion to Mary is linked so intimately to our concept and our faith in Jesus as the Son of God.

To Jesus through Mary. Our love and devotion to Mary is linked so intimately to our concept and our faith in Jesus as the Son of God.


Friday, December 14, 2012

The RH Bill is a Sign of the Times


I AGREE THAT THE PASSAGE OF this bill if ever it is passed is a "Sign of the Times". The Philippines is actually late in the trending. The Bible has predicted that the end times will be characterized by apostasy and unbelief. In many cou
ntries especially the countries were formerly Christianity held sway, many un-Christian laws have been passed, like same sex marriage and legalizing abortions. For us Christians this is not something to be worried about. This is not the struggle between good and evil, but this are the "signs of the times". We can rest in the thought that God has given us the grace to recognize His Will and gave us the strength to give witness to this truth even in odd circumstances. Even if this RH Bill is passed, it is not something for us to worry. God is in control, only we should be grateful He has given us the strength to be faithful. That is what matters.
For those who accuse the church as digressive and medieval here is my reply: The church stands for what is moral and true. Truth and dogmas are unchanging. The mission of the church is to be faithful to the teachings of Christ. No matter what the clime and time may be, the mission of the church is to live faithfully to the call of Christ. It is not the mission of the Church to follow the trend and fads of this world. Modernity is not the norm. Fashion is not the trend. In fact the church is called to be separate and not to conform to the standards of this world, but to be conformed to the image and mind of Christ. 
For those who accuse the church as a bunch of pedophiles and child molesters here is what I can say: People do commit sins, even grievous sins. No one is exempted, even saints and angels did commit sins. The Church is made up of imperfect people all journeying towards the path of holiness. They were called to be Christians and followers of Christ not because they were holy but because they were sinners and Christ want to give them the opportunity to seek holiness. The Church as an organization is not human in origin, though human in composition. The Church is Divine in origin because the founder is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thus the sinfulness of the members does not nullify the teachings of the church. Though is someways it can weaken the impact of the message if the bearers are sinners. But in this case I know that the Bishops and Priests leading the campaign are in good standing with the church. There are no known pedophile leading the anti-RH rallies.
For those who claim that Vatican II Council allowed the laity or empowered the laity to espouse contraceptive mentality and to consider it as sanctioned by the Council, my response is: You have misread the Vatican II documents. You have read it with the lens of your biases and worldly advocacy to suit your agenda. Read it with the Church tradition in mind so that you will hear the right message.

Here is an article you can read.

To all my fellow sojourners may God give us always the strength.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: A POSTSCRIPT REFLECTION


THERE ARE MANY THINGS THAT CHRIST has spoken to us and Christ told us that if we can’t believe what he tells us about this world neither can we believe if he tells us about those things that are in heaven.  The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is one of the dogmas of faith proclaimed by the Church.  God has confirmed this by miracles and signs.  Some of these are the Miraculous Medal of St. Catherine Laboure, the Virgin of Lourdes through St. Bernadette Soubirou and the Lady of Fatima in Portugal through the little Children.  Interesting to note that in these Marian apparitions, Mary appeared to simple and humble women and children.  Wanting to show to us that the Power of God is made more manifest when He does His will through the instrumentation of humble individuals and not through the proud.  St. Bernadette was an ordinary and ignorant daughter of a peasant, she suffered in life being born into a poor family, she never received kind treatment from her superior when she entered the convent.  But Mary promised her that she will not have happiness in this world but in the world to come.  The same also with Catherine Laboure a simple member of the daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.  The Children of Fatima died young except for one.

IN LAYMAN’S term it can be said the dogma of the Immaculate conception teaches us that Mary, being the Theotokus or "God-Bearer" or the Mother of God was conceived free from original sin we inherited from Adam and Eve.  By a singular grace from God all the merits of Calvary were applied to her so that she would be exempted from original sin because she was about to bear in her womb the holy Son of God, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word.  Throughout her life, even if not comprehending the designs of the Almighty, Mary obeyed God.  She was humble and submitted herself totally to God's Will without preconditions.  This singular privilege of grace was proclaimed by the Angel Gabriel when he greeted her, "Hail Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!"

MARY was never a preacher; the gospel narratives about her in the Scriptures were short, but full of force and enigma.  Christ performed his first miracle in Cana at the command of Mary.  While both of them were at a wedding feast, the Virgin Mary told Jesus, "they don't have wine anymore", wherein Jesus replied, "Woman, it is not yet my time!" Then Mary turned to the servants and bid them thus: "Do as they tell you!”  Then Jesus commanded the servants to fill the jars with water and thereupon he turned the water into wine.  The wedding guests scolded the groom for hiding the best wine, for they said, the best wine is served first and that when the guests have already filled themselves, it is the time to serve the worst kind of wine.  But in this case the best wine was served last.

IN THE PUBLIC life of Jesus Mary was there…she listened to the Word of God.  In her silence she took note of God’s Word and hid them in her heart.  In Calvary and in the passion of Christ Mary was there.  Just as prophesied by the Prophet Simeon, nine sorrows as if they were arrows were buried in her heart.  But she as the follower of Christ was also glorified.  Thus in the glorious mysteries we proclaimed the crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Here she becomes the icon of the triumphant Church, the image and sacrament of that hope by which the church is destined to achieve.  Thus with faith we invoke the prayer, “O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee!”  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

ADVENT REFLECTION: THE REALITY OF THE PAROUSIA


SHARING MY SUNDAY REFLECTION: Today is the first Sunday in the Season of Advent. Last Sunday we celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King to mark the end of the Liturgical Calendar. The Kingship of Christ is celebrated as the culmination of the liturgical year because it serves as reminder for all of us that the history of Salvation and the whole of the cosmos will have its culmination in the reign of God. That is why the very corner stone of the Christian religion is the belief in the Resurrection of the dead. That in the end we profess that Christ will come again the second time to judge the world in righteousness.

THE SUNDAY reading for today was centered on the message of the Second coming or stated in the Greek word, Parousia. There are many people today who have unnecessarily burdened themselves with the task of predicting when and where the Second Coming of Christ will take place. Others are also pre-occupied with speculation as to what this world would become when Christ comes again. While others have "spiritualize" the second coming as to obliterate its intended meaning or has become an indirect way to deny its reality altogether.  But one thing for sure, anyone who has read the New Testament can never deny that Christ has promised that He will come again indeed. In simple words He uttered his promise. This promise calls for faith and not a scholarly treatise or explanation.  Eternity is like a circle, it has no beginning and it has no ending. That is why Christ said that he is the Alpha and the Omega, referring to the Greek alphabet where Alpha is the beginning and Omega the ending.  This he said if only to give us a glimpse or to cause us to have some insight of His Nature as Divine and Eternal.  The moral lesson here is that we have to be conscious of death. Because every day is always a potential that perhaps we may die. And we die; the second coming of Christ becomes a reality. Instead of preoccupying ourselves with details of how the second coming would be, we should be more preoccupied with preparations of how we shall fit into that Kingdom promised by our Lord. For if we are prepared to meet the Lord then the details will simply be a reality for us when the day comes. Christ our dear Lord said, that the Second Coming of the Son of Man is like the coming of the thief in the night unexpected, but surely. Death may come to us unexpectedly and so we have to be prepared so that when the morning of the resurrection will come then we are ready to face the Lord. If we live our lives according to God's Will, we shall be likened to the wise virgins who put extra oil in their lamps so that when the bridegroom comes they are ready.

AS WE BEGIN the new liturgical year with the celebration of Advent, we are called upon in expectation to celebrate and live the mystery of salvation in another cycle of liturgical year, until we are called home and until we see the parousia and behold Him whom our souls expect to see. Though we are dead He shall call us back to life. Like Him we shall have glorified bodies free from corruption. For, as it was said, Christ has triumph over all His enemies.  He led a train of bounty back to heaven. The Last enemy to be defeated is death. O, death where is your sting? O, death where is your victory? Christ will come and He will set us free. May we be worthy on that day. Let us put on our white garments (our baptism) and let us take hold of the palm leaf and say Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord. Alleluia! Maranatha!