Faith and reason are under attack. The Catholic Church must defend both: by PETER KWASNIEWSKI

Faith and reason are under attack. The Catholic Church must defend both


May 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — One of the major themes of the papal writings of Pope Benedict XVI was the harmony of faith and reason — and not just their harmony, but the dependence of human reason on the creative divine Reason or Logos. For it is not merely the case that faith does not contradict reason, as if the two are compatible partners on an equal footing. Rather, human reason is a finite and fallible light that emanates from the prior, all-encompassing light of God, who is also the font of life, love, freedom, and wisdom.

Consequently, men can be truly reasonable and free only when they must submit their intellects and wills to this light and live in its radiance. Faith in divine revelation encompasses and elevates all the functions of reason. Without this light, men are doomed to the darkness of self-will, the tempest of irrational urges, and ultimately the madness of nihilism.

Put differently, unless we embrace God’s revelation in faith, which purifies and elevates the natural light of our mind, our own reason is fated to be its undoing. By refusing or abandoning faith, we undermine reason at its foundation. Those who labor to sweep clean the rooms of their minds, thinking to find in scientific and technical prowess a kind of secular salvation, end up verifying the somber words of Our Lord Jesus Christ when he speaks of the demon who, finding his old house “empty, swept, and garnished,” takes with him “seven other evil spirits more wicked than himself” and enters in to dwell there (Mt. 12:43–45).

Is this not what Americans, Canadians, the British, Australians, and so many others are witnessing as their beloved countries plummet with accelerating speed into the folly — nay, the insanity — of liberalism unbounded, which refuses allegiance even to reason and to nature in its insatiable quest for self without soul, liberty without loyalty?

To the “enlightened” of recent centuries, the Catholic Church was the great enemy of reason, progress, liberty. Wrapped in her dark robes of medieval superstition, she sought to enslave men with her dogmas and decrees, despising the goodness of raw nature. That was how things looked to a Jefferson or a Voltaire.

From our vantage in the twenty-first century, when for the first time large numbers of people seem incapable of recognizing, much less assenting to, the ironclad results of a valid syllogism or the normalcy of heterosexual love, it is sweetly ironic that the Catholic Tradition is increasingly the only bastion and defender of nature’s integrity and of the goodness of natural reason itself.

Even while I recognize that rational argument is a dying art with a steadily diminishing potential audience and that the appeal to reason can never be an exclusive means of approach or the last word — if only because, as Pascal sagely observed, “the heart has reasons of which reason knows nothing” — still, I have often thought that our day and age is exactly the right time for a major revival of Catholic apologetics.

Catholic, mind you; for there is a brand of apologetics very popular right now that specializes in the arts of proof-texting, razor-sharp distinctions, and blowing clouds of verbiage but fails to draw upon the liturgical, aesthetic, and ascetical-mystical depths of Catholicism — the things that most resonate in the hearts of believers and equip them with that sensus Catholicus by which to discern with the spiritual palate what is true, good, and beautiful, and to reject their contraries. What we need is not an apologetics of desiccated reasoning, but a three-dimensional exposure to the luminous reality of the Faith, which is encountered above all in the Church’s traditional rites of worship and her abundance of strong and subtle arts.

The stakes are higher than ever: not faith alone, but reason too is besieged. Christian faith is ridiculed as utterly irrational, when in reality, as the best minds have seen for the past 2,000 years, it is supreme and sovereign Reason — God’s Reason. Our own minds can begin to discern this beautiful reasonableness if we will make the effort. We owe it to Our Lord and to ourselves to prize and nurture the gift of reason as we do the gift of faith, so that we can be sane within, and talk sanity to a world hell-bent on going mad.

Even so, since we moderns are surrounded by the constant distraction of smartphones, emails, Facebook, Twitter, and who knows what else yet to come, this work of filling our minds with good things can be tough going, and perseverance is called for. Those seven demons mentioned by Our Lord would prefer to see the room of your mind “empty, swept, and garnished” with the latest fads and fictions, but you know better than to yield to their desires. Furnish your mind with solid truth that no demons — or their unwitting human captives — can gainsay.

End Quotes

Raping the “Rapture” biblically…is it really God’s tuth?by JOHN MARTIGNONI

Raping the “Rapture” biblically…is it really God’s tuth?

Sorry, “Left Behind” Fans, “The Rapture” Is Not in the Bible

In fact, if anyone’s getting beamed up, it’s not the good guys


Question: A friend of mine has been reading the Left Behind books that have all of this stuff about the “Rapture” in them. Is there really going to be a “Rapture” like these books talk about?

Answer: No.The “Rapture” refers to a passage in First Thessalonians 4, where Christians are “caught up” in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” Many Christians believe, and the Left Behind books promote, that this being “caught up” to meet the Lord will occur before the Great Tribulation sometime in the near future. Christians will simply vanish, meet Jesus somewhere in the air, and then return with Him to Heaven to await the end of time.

But notice, in verse 15, Paul says that “…we who are alive, who areleft,” shall be caught up. This is a very important point to stress to rapture enthusiasts. Those who are “left” get caught up to meet the Lord. Keep that in mind as we look at these next couple of Scripture passages.

The Left Behind books get their name from a passage in Luke 17, and a similar passage in Matthew 24, which compares the coming of the Lord to the days of Noah and the days of Lot. Matthew 24 puts it this way: “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man…[they ate, they drank, they married] and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field, one is taken and one is left. Two women grinding at the mill, one is taken one is left.”

“One is taken, one is left” — the Rapture right? Jesus takes the Christians and leaves behind non-Christians!

That’s how rapture enthusiasts interpret these passages. Well, you need to say to them: “Not so fast, folks.” Two problems with the Protestant “Left Behind” interpretation: First, in the passages from Luke 17 and Matthew 24, Jesus’ coming is compared to the days of Noah and the days of Lot. Let’s think about that for a moment. After the flood, who was left? Noah and his family — the good guys. The bad guys were taken and the good guys were left behind! After Sodom and Gomorrah went up in smoke, who was left? Lot and his daughters — the good guys. The bad guys were taken and the good guys were left behind!

The second problem with the “Left Behind” interpretation, has to do with what I mentioned above: 1 Thessalonians 4 says that those who are “left” get to meet Jesus in the air. You want to be left behind. Why? Because those who are left behind get to meet Jesus on His return to earth. Again, when you put 1 Thessalonians 4 together with Matthew 24 and Luke 17, it becomes quite apparent that the good guys are the ones left behind to meet Jesus.

And, if you need further proof of that, there’s a passage in Matthew 13 that pretty much seals the deal. Matthew 13:39-43, “…and the enemy who sowed them [the bad seed] is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

So when Scripture says that “one is taken and one is left,” as it does in Luke 17 and Matthew 24, it is not talking about the Rapture, it is talking about the harvest at the close of the age. The ones who are taken, as it says in Matthew 13, are the evildoers. The angels have taken them and tossed them into the furnace of fire. So, the Left Behind books got it exactly 180 degrees wrong. The ones taken are not the good guys, they are the evildoers. The ones who are left behind are the ones who get to be caught up in the clouds to meet Jesus in the air at His Second Coming, when He will bring all of the angels and saints with Him and there will be a new Heaven and a new earth.

In other words, there will be no Rapture like the one the Left Behindbooks talk about. The Left Behind books teach the opposite of what Scripture actually says.

John Martignoni is a nationally-known Catholic apologist and Bible scholar. He is the Founder and President of the Bible Christian Society, where you can find lots of free apologetics materials — CD’s, mp3 downloads, e-newsletters, and more, and host of EWTN’s “Open Line” airing on Mondays at 3 p.m. EST. He is also Director of the Office of the New Evangelization in the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama

Mary Teaches Us That Love Bears New Life JEANNIE EWING

Mary Teaches Us That Love Bears New Life


“Love gives new life to the heart. By its nature, the heart lives for itself; when it is struck by love, it begins a new life for the one it loves.”

– Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations on Mary

When I discovered I was pregnant with our fourth child a year ago, my heart flooded with mixed emotions. Our youngest, Veronica, was barely approaching her first birthday, and I had just begun to feel a little more normal, a little more like myself.

The reason I felt both nervous and excited was that I had suffered from infertility for years, but was able to conceive Joseph without any natural intervention from my Creighton doctor. It was both a joy to know I could have another baby naturally, but also frightening that we would be welcoming a fourth child so soon after having our third.

In desperation and throughout my difficult pregnancy, I relied solely on the Blessed Mother’s assistance. And she came through, as always, but in a lesson I wasn’t quite expecting – a lesson that love must be a total sacrifice of self in order for it to be authentic love.

Mary teaches us all that love bears the fruit of new life, both in bringing children into the world and in bearing new life through our word and work for God’s glory. She accomplished both and teaches us how we can, too.

“Mary Gives Birth in Two Ways”

“Mary gives birth in two ways. She gave birth to Jesus and she gives birth to the faithful; that is, she gave birth to the Innocent One, and she gives birth to sinners. She gave birth to the Innocent One painlessly, but she gives birth to sinners with sorrow and anguish.” (Bossuet, p. 96-97)

Every mother knows that, once she brings a little human life into the world, her body and her time are no longer her own. Instead, she is constantly offering herself up – at times, painstakingly – for the sake of her baby. And this is done out of love. Even so, it hurts. It’s hard to be chronically sleep deprived. It’s difficult to incessantly be beckoned for feedings and diaper changes.

And as our kids grow up, their needs shift to more emotional and spiritual longings. They hunger for knowledge and truth; we, as mothers, nourish their minds and souls. They ask hard questions about life, death, and suffering; we, as mothers, honestly answer them without pretension. Our roles transition from physical birth pangs to the piercing of the heart as we watch our children experience betrayal, loneliness, and inevitable struggles.

As our Mother, Mary understands the physical and spiritual demands of motherhood. Not only did she undergo all of this in totality from the moment she heard the prophecy of Simeon in the Temple until her own Assumption into Heaven, but she also mystically gave birth to us at the foot of the Cross.

The words of Jesus, “Woman, behold your son” was the moment of our adoption into her loving care. And she journeys with us through the bittersweet changes of motherhood. That mystical relationship between our spiritual Mother and ourselves is a tender one that constantly alters us and deepens our understanding of how to live the love she and Jesus shared.

Mary Lived by Love, Despite Her Sorrows

“The Blessed Virgin lived by the strength of her love. Her condition was one of mortal sorrow and amid this sorrow, she lived by love. She always kept before her eyes Jesus Christ crucified…” (Bossuet, p. 102-103)

There are two ways I’ve vaguely gotten a taste for Our Lady’s sorrows: through watching one of our children suffer physical pain, and through the torment of witnessing another daughter suffer terrible emotional and spiritual agonies.

Sarah, our middle daughter, has had seven surgeries all before the age of six. They have all been excruciating to endure as a mother, but the hardest one of all was when she had skull surgery at six months old. The night before, I watched her innocence slip away before my eyes, because I knew she would feel a pain I may never understand.

Felicity, our oldest daughter, has always struggled interiorly with scruples, anxieties, and sensory processing issues. She is a highly sensitive soul who has already felt the searing pain of loneliness and loss.

Mary is my model of motherhood through all these incredible swings of highs and lows. I have never known life to be so full of intense emotions as I have as a mother, yet she tempers them all in my heart, that they may be exchanged as a gift of love to God.

Mary, Model of Motherhood

“Only love can give life. Only Christ’s love can redeem and forgive and illumine. Only Christ’s love can waken the world from apathy to wonder. Only Christ’s love can quicken the world with new life. Love is given only in man’s gift of himself. There is no other way.”

– Caryll Houselander

Mary’s heart points us always to the heart of her Son, Jesus. I have come to see more acutely how intertwined their hearts truly are, to the point where one is indistinguishable from the other. The United Hearts of Jesus and Mary devotion always bring me back to the sincere prayer that my heart might be open to giving and receiving love once again.

So often, motherhood can harden our hearts. We are wearied from the daily struggles, the calamities and chaos, all with little to no respite. It’s hard to be receptive to love when we are exhausted, drained, and quite literally, empty. But the hearts of Jesus and Mary gently invite us to open ourselves up again to bring forth life in a new way every day by way of vulnerable and meek love. That is the gift of oneself – openness to giving birth again and again, every day.

By Jeannie Ewing

Jeannie Ewing is a Catholic spirituality writer who writes about the moving through grief, the value of redemptive suffering, and how to wait for God’s timing fruitfully. Her books include Navigating Deep Waters, From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore For Those Who Grieve, and Waiting with Purpose. She is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic periodicals. Jeannie, her husband, and their three daughters (plus one baby boy) live in northern Indiana. For more information, please visit her website  Follow Jeannie on social media:  Facebook | LinkedIn |Instagram


Protestant views on Mary include the theological positions of major Protestant representatives such as Martin Luther and John Calvin as well as some modern representatives. While it is difficult to generalize about the place of Mary in Protestantismgiven the great diversity of Protestant beliefs, some summary statements are attempted.

While reformers such as Martin LutherHuldrych Zwingli and John Calvin at different points in their writings had expressed what seem to be examples of a residual Marian piety,[1][2] the Protestant emphasis on sola scripturasolus Christussoli Deo gloria, among others kept the honoring of Mary to a minimum, and Protestant teaching about Mary co-terminous with her short part in scripture and creeds.

Nevertheless, a uniquely “Protestant” view of Mary can be said to exist, inasmuch as details of the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, are revealed in scripture and explored in exegesis; a typical Protestant view of Mary may be said to focus on her humility before God, her obedience and her openness to the Word made flesh.[citation needed] A newer, controversial, Protestant view of Mary emerging out of the Evangelical movement sees Mary as a feisty, assertive, and radically Christian woman.[3]

What do other Christians believe about Mary?


What do other Christians believe about Mary (Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc.)?

Christians believe that Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Christ. In general, however, Mary plays a much less significant role in Protestant faiths than in Catholicism. In post-Reformation Europe, Protestants viewed Catholic devotion to Mary as excessive and non-Biblical. For many, that feeling has persisted over the centuries.

Though it’s hard to generalize, certain Catholic beliefs about Mary are rejected by most Protestants. These teachings include the Immaculate Conception (the belief that Mary was conceived without original sin), the Assumption, Mary’s perpetual virginity, and the role of Mary as intercessor.


In recent years, however, many religious writers have noted increased Protestant interest in Mary. This is attributed to several factors, including renewed efforts at ecumenism, the movement of many Hispanic Catholics to Protestant churches, and the impact of films such as The Passion of the Christ and The Nativity Story. Certainly, any discussion of Mary should build upon the beliefs that are common to all Christians. As the National Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in their pastoral letter Behold Your Mother: Woman of Faith:


“We are convinced that all Christians share a basic reverence for the Mother of Jesus, a veneration deeper than doctrinal differences and theological disputes … Together we accept the Gospel respect for the Mother of Jesus, Handmaid of the Lord, woman of faith, model of prayer, servant of the Spirit.



{The chief differences are} The assumption  & The immaculate conception Mary END QUOTE


But also many doubt her perpetual virginity, and in more recent times, hold the belief that what Catholics DO in regard to Mary is clearly Idolatry.

We have been looking at the subject of the idolatry of Mary worship in what is really a study of false religion, Roman Catholicism, and its worship of Mary.  Interestingly enough I, this past week, had the opportunity to be on the Larry King Show, some of you probably saw it, with a whole group of Roman Catholics and several priests.  And in the green room there were some Catholic apologists, and Catholic media people, and Roman Catholic publicity people, and there were some young men from the Vatican Seminary and the usual Father Manning.  I was checking on my facts, as I had the opportunity to do that in talking to them about things, and it was affirmed to me that the very things that we are talking about in this study of Mary are the things to which they are truly and genuinely devoted.  We’ve spent three weeks discussing what the Catholic Church essentially says about Mary.  We’ve talked about their devotion to Mary.  We’ve talked about their doctrine regarding Mary.  In the end, when all is said and done, the very obvious dominant perception is that they worship Mary.  In fact, on a pragmatic basis they worship Mary far more than they worship even the Lord Jesus Christ, and far more than they worship the true and living God.

It is idolatry in the clearest form.  And to deal with this we need only really to do two things, biblically.  One is to see what the Bible says about idolatry, and the other is to see what the Bible actually says about Mary.  And then, we will clearly understand that they have invented a goddess to worship who has no relationship to the true Mary, the mother of Jesus revealed in Scripture, the historical Mary. END QUOTES



Why ProtestantsDon’t Pray toMary

(A Brief History of Prayer to Mary)

“Song of the Angels” by Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1881).

“Blessed art thou among women…”  -Luke 1:28

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;” -I Timothy 2:5

Note: The purpose of this webpage is not to present information “against” any Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox who are fellow believers in Christ, but rather to inform those who are Protestants of their heritage, their distinctive beliefs, and why these are held.  If you are Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox and are offended by hearing about beliefs differing from your own, you are welcome to skip this page.

 Eastern OrthodoxRoman Catholic, and even Protestant visitors to this Website sometimes have all exactly the same question: “Why don’t Protestants pray to the Virgin Mary? (or even seek Mary’s intercession on one’s behalf?)

The easy, short answer is that it would not usually even occur to Protestants to do this, they not being taught to do so either in the New Testament or in their Churches (and in the back of their minds they may well be hearing the scripture verse: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;” -I Timothy 2:5).  

The question then turns around and presents itself as: “Why do the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches offer such prayer?”  …and perhaps even more to the point, if such prayer is mentioned neither in the Gospels, nor in the Letters of the Apostles, when and how did this type of prayer enter into the history and practice of the Church? 

MORE on their web-site

What do Presbyterians believe about Mary?

A new look at Mary



Reprinted from the April 2004 issue of Presbyterians Today

Presbyterian author Kathleen Norris makes the wry observation that Protestants have a limited attention span for Mary, the mother of Jesus. We unpack her from the box at Christmastime, she says, and then pack her back up again, with our other decorations, after the holidays are over.*


One reason we Protestants hold Mary at arm’s length is because we associate her with our own vague discomfort about the role of saints in Christian spirituality. As Protestants we remember that Luther and Calvin criticized the Roman church of the 16th century for compromising, in their understandings of Mary, on the basic Christian conviction that Jesus Christ is the one Mediator between God and humanity. Not wanting to make the same mistake, however, we inadvertently make another: We relegate Mary to the sideline End Quotes more on their web-site



7 Key Differences Between Protestant and Catholic Doctrine



  1. Veneration of the Saints and the Virgin Mary

Roman Catholics see veneration, not as praying to the Saints and the Virgin Mary, but as praying through them. This is seen as similar to asking a brother or sister in Christ to pray for you. Dr. Svigel adds that departed saints are also “able to spill over their overabundance of grace to us.”

Furthermore, Dr. Horrell notes that the Virgin Mary is seen as “the mother of our Lord, and therefore she is the mother of his body, and his body is the church, so she is the mother of the church. He is the creator of all things. So she is the mother of angels. She is the mother of humanity, as is sometimes said.”

Moreover, the Catholic Church has also called her the Queen of Heaven. Historically, Mary was given a less prominent position in Protestantism as a reaction to this emphasis in the Catholic Church. There is no equivalent to this kind of veneration in Protestantism, as Protestants emphasize direct access to God.


While both Protestants and Catholics agree on many essentials of the historic Christian faith, there are key issues which continue to distinguish their beliefs and practices. Get the full conversation by listening to the Table Podcast series: Comparing Protestantism with Catholicism

Mary “Full of Grace” … By Patrick

Posted January 11

“I’ve searched through many different translations of the mainstream bible for ‘full of grace’, and nowhere is Mary called that. She is told by the angel that she is ‘favoured by god’, or has ‘found favour in god’s eyes’. So? David was favoured in god’s eyes. At one time Saul was favoured in God’s eyes. Samuel was favoured in God’s eyes. All Christians are favoured in God’s eyes. Luke 1:18 “kai eiselthōn pros autēn eipen kecharitōmenē Kyrios meta sou eulogēmenē sy en gynaixin”

The phrase, “full of grace,” in Greek is “plaras karitos,” and it occurs in only two places in the New Testament. Neither one is in reference to Mary.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14).
“And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people,” (Acts 6:8).

The first citation refers to Jesus who is obviously full of grace. Jesus is God in flesh, the crucified and risen Lord, who cleanses us from our sins. In the second citation, it is Stephen who is full of grace.  We can certainly affirm that Jesus was conceived without sin and remained sinless, but can we conclude this about Stephen as well? Certainly not. The phrase, “full of grace,” does not necessitate sinlessness by virtue of its use. In Stephen’s case it signifies that he was “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” along with faith and the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3, 5). But Stephen was a sinner. Nevertheless, where does the phrase “full of grace” come from regarding Mary?”

My dear friend in Christ,

Thank you introducing yet another often debated issue.

First it is important to understand that this Gift was initiated by GOD; with no request from any earthling prompting it.

Secondly this is NOT something GOD was in some way obligated to do. Jesus COULD have chosen to be born from a Mother in Original sin. It WAS God who decided that Jesus would be born of a “virgin” who was and remained “Full of Grace” as it was FITTING that it be so.

Third: Why a “Virgin”?

Sacred Tradition holds that Mary who was born of AGED parents {Lk. 1:7} was a “Temple Virgin”; a very young girl given back to Yahweh for Service to Him. {Likely done so when she was 3 or 4]…. This was not all that uncommon in that culture, time and place. {GOOGLE Temple virgins}

As a temple Virgin Mary would have freely committed her virginity to God. She would have served the priest in menial task, and making garments for the priest and temple. She was fully committed to living this life for all of hers.

So again it was GOD who decided that He would honor Mary’s freewill gift of her virginity to Him; not something sought my Mary:

Lk. 1: 34-35 “ [34] And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? [35] And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

 Luke 1: 27-28

Latin Vulgate Bible

The Latin Vulgate

Luke 1:27-28

27 ad virginem desponsatam viro cui nomen erat Ioseph de domo David et nomen virginis Maria28 et ingressus angelus ad eam dixit have gratia plena Dominus tecum benedicta tu in mulieribus

Same from the Douay Bible

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary.28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. END QUOTES

Same from the King James Bible

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Same from the Catholic RSV Bible

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.28 And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” END QUOTES

So exactly when the change was made; it is evident that A CHANGE WAS MADE. WHY this happened is conjecture. …. It seems to Me {a uninformed- bystander}that more recent Catholics Bibles may have taken this lead from the King James? {THAT IS SCARRY!}

Luke 1: 44-55 {Douay Bible}

 [44] For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. [45] And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

[46] And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. [47] And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. [48] Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed[49] Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. [50] And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

Douay explanation: [48] “Shall call me blessed”: These words are a prediction of that honour which the church in all ages should pay to the Blessed Virgin. Let Protestants examine whether they are any way concerned in this prophecy.

[51] He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. [52] He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. [53] He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. [54] He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy:[55] As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever END QUOTES.

Forth: Mary HAD TO freely choose never to sin; and did so by accepting every plentiful grace offered to her. This She merited through Her Son Jesus. …. For GOD time does not exist; everything id Present to God: the past, the present and the future.

I pray this adds to the discussion.


A Crash Course on the Crusades By: Steve Weidenkopf


A Crash Course on the Crusades

By: Steve Weidenkopf

The Crusades are one of the most misunderstood events in Western and Church history.  The very word “crusades” conjures negative images in our modern world of bloodthirsty and greedy European nobles embarked on a conquest of peaceful Muslims.  The Crusades are considered by many to be one of the “sins” the Christian Faith has committed against humanity and with the Inquisition are the go-to cudgels for bashing the Church.

While the mocking and generally nasty portrayal of the Crusades and Crusaders on the big screen ranges from Monty Python farce to the cringe worthy big budget spectacles like Kingdom of Heaven (2005), it is the biased and bad scholarship such as Steven Runciman’s History of the Crusades, or the BBC/A&E documentary, The Crusades, hosted by Terry Jones (of Monty Python acclaim) that does real damage. From academia to pop-culture, the message is reinforced and driven home with resounding force: the Crusades were bad and obviously so. The real story is of course far more complicated and far more interesting.

It is worth our time to be versed in the facts and especially to recall the tremendous faith, sacrifice, and courage that inspired the vast majority of the Crusaders to act in defense of Christendom.

What Were the Crusades?

When answering the question “what were the Crusades” one has to keep in mind that Crusading took on many different forms throughout the movement which spanned a significant portion of European history lasting from 1095 – 1798.

There were Crusades against the Muslims (in the Holy Land, in Spain, in the Balkans and even in Austria); against pagan tribes in the Baltic regions; against heretics (notably in southern France); and even against enemies of the Pope (e.g. the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II).

Despite the many different forms, there were four essential ingredients that classified an armed expedition as a Crusade:

The Taking of the Cross

Participants took a public, binding ecclesiastical vow to join a military expedition with defined aims. As a sign of their vow, they sewed a red cross onto their garments.  The cross could only be removed upon successful completion of their armed pilgrimage.

Papal Endorsement

A Crusade had to be called by the Pope or endorsed by him. 


A crusader received certain privileges from the Church, specifically, the protection of family and property.  Those who attacked a crusader’s land were subject to severe ecclesiastical penalties (including excommunication). Additional privileges included the right to demand and receive hospitality from the Church on the journey, exemption from tolls and taxes, immunity from arrest, and exemption from interest payments.

Crusaders were granted a partial or plenary indulgence for completion of their armed pilgrimage.

When most people think of the Crusades they simply think it was a prolonged martial engagement of European knights against the Muslims in the Holy Land. The truth is that each expedition was launched for distinct reasons with years and even decades separating the campaigns. Crusade historians have traditionally numbered these distinct expeditions in the following manner:

Crusade Dates Major Events Major Characters
First 1096 –1102 o     Liberation of Antioch
– 1098

o   Liberation of Jerusalem
– 1099

o   Godfrey of Bouillon

o   Raymond of Toulouse

o   Bohemond

o   Bishop Adhemar

Second 1147 – 1149 o     Siege of Damascus (failed) o    Louis VII of France

o   Conrad III – Holy Roman Emperor (HRE)

Third 1189 – 1192 o     Liberation of Acre
– 1191

o   Treaty = Christian access to Jerusalem for 3 years

o   Saladin

o   HRE Frederick Barbarossa

o   Richard I – King of England

o   Philip II – King of France

Fourth 1201 – 1205 o   Sack of Constantinople
– 1204
o   Pope Innocent III

o   Doge Enricho Dandolo – Venice

o   Alexius Angelus

o   Boniface of Montferrat

Fifth 1218 – 1221 o     Invasion of Egypt o   Cardinal Pelagius

o   St. FrancisAl-Kamil

Sixth (a.k.a. Crusade of Frederick II) 1228 – 1229 o     Restoration of Jerusalem by treaty o   HRE Frederick II
Seventh (First Crusade of St. Louis) 1248 – 1254 o     Invasion of Egypt o   King St. Louis IX of France
Eighth   (a.k.a Second   Crusade of St. Louis) 1269 – 1272 o     Invasion of Tunisia o   King St. Louis IX of France


With this backdrop, we can now address the five most enduring modern myths regarding the Crusades. 

Myth #1: The Crusades were wars of unprovoked aggression

From its beginnings, Islam has been a violent and imperialistic movement.  Within 100 years of the death of Mohammed, Islamic armies had conquered ancient Christian lands in the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain.  The Holy City of Jerusalem was captured in 638.  Islamic armies launched raids throughout the Mediterranean and even attacked Rome in 846.  Life in the conquered regions for Christians was not easy; many were forced to convert, others converted due to societal pressure (Christians and Jews were considered to be barely above the status of slaves in Islamic society); still others maintained the Faith at great risk.

Although there were periods of relative peace and calm between Muslims and Christians, including Christian pilgrims from Europe, the situation radically changed in the early 11th century when the Egyptian Muslim ruler of Jerusalem ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The church was later rebuilt, but the arrival of the Seljuk Turks (non-Arab Muslims), who conquered Jerusalem from the Egyptian Muslims in the late 11th century, negatively altered the landscape for the Christians.  In 1065 the Seljuks began a campaign of persecution against Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land in which the Bishop of Bamberg and 12,000 pilgrims were massacred by the Muslims only two miles from Jerusalem. They waged war against the Christian Byzantine Empire, winning a decisive victory at the Battle of Manzikert (1071).  It was this event that one historian has described as “the shock that launched the Crusades.”[1]

After losing the Battle of Manzikert, the Byzantine Emperor wrote the Pope a letter requesting western aid.  It was for this reason and for the liberation of Jerusalem and other ancient Christian lands that eventually led Pope Bl. Urban II to call the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont on November 27, 1095.

The Crusaders understood they were participating in an armed pilgrimage for the restoration of ancient Christian lands.  The Crusades were defensive wars aimed at the restoration of property not unprovoked aggressive campaigns of conquest.

Myth #2:  The Crusades were about European greed for booty, plunder and the establishment of colonies. 

Scholarship over the last forty years has clearly demonstrated the fallacy of this modern myth, yet it still persists.  The myth postulates the reason for the Crusades grew out of the European population boom experienced in the mid 11th century, which saw the rise of numerous second and third born sons who could not inherit the family land.  As a result, European society became violent and the Church channeled this violence by directing the attention of these latter born sons to the Holy Land where they could acquire land and wealth through violent conquest.  In short, the Crusades were colonial enterprises aimed at increasing European wealth.  This sounds logical; however, the facts do not fit the myth.

Modern scholars have shown through meticulous research that it was the first-born sons, not the second and third, who made up the majority of Crusaders.  As one historian has remarked, “it was not those with the least to lose who took up the cross, but rather those with the most.”[2] The vast majority of Crusaders actually left the Holy Land and returned home upon completion of their vows; just as pilgrims today go to a church or shrine and then return home.

Of the 60,000 fighting men who went on the First Crusade, only 300 knights and 2,000 infantry remained after the liberation of Jerusalem.

If the Crusades were an ancient land-grab, then why did so many European knights travel 2,500 miles, finance four times their annual income for expenses and risk certain death to go?

It is hard for the modern mind to grasp the reality that the society of the late 11th and early 12th century was a society rooted in the Catholic Faith.  Men left the comfort of home to engage in an armed pilgrimage because of their love for Christ and a concern for their souls.

Records left by these first Crusaders show they were motivated by the granting of a plenary indulgence in reparation for their sins.  One crusader, Odo of Burgundy, undertook

the journey to Jerusalem as a penance for my sins… Since divine mercy inspired me that owing to the enormity of my sins I should go to the Sepulchre of Our Savior, in order that this offering of my devotion might be more acceptable in the sight of God, I decided not unreasonably that I should make the journey with the peace of all men and most greatly of the servants of God.”[3]  Indeed, one contemporary chronicler remarked, “the Crusader set himself the task of winning back the earthly Jerusalem in order to enjoy the celestial Jerusalem.”[4]

Although many crusaders were motivated by piety, of course not all participants had such pure motives.  As with any human undertaking, the Crusades also drew men more concerned with temporal affairs than spiritual affairs.  “A crusade army was a curious mix of rich and poor, saints and sinners, motivated by every kind of pious and selfish desire…”[5]

Recognizing this reality does not give credence to the modern myth, rather it acknowledges human nature.  The fact remains that the vast majority of crusaders were pious warriors fighting to liberate the land of Christ from the yoke of the Muslims in order to bring peace. 

Myth #3:  When Jerusalem was captured in 1099 the crusaders killed all the inhabitants – so many were killed that the blood flowed ankle deep through the city. 

Soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, former President Bill Clinton gave a speech at Georgetown University wherein he embraced this modern myth and said one reason why Muslims dislike the Western world was because of the massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 1099.

Despite the obvious physical inability for blood to flow ankle-deep through a city, this myth fails to take into account the harsh reality and rules of 11th century warfare.  Standard practice at the time dictated that a city that refused to surrender at the sight of a siege army would suffer any and all consequences of a successful siege; this is why many cities agreed to terms before commencement of the siege.

Both Christian and Muslim armies followed this policy.  If a city surrendered before the siege, the inhabitants were allowed to remain in the city and keep their possessions. Crusaders allowed Muslims to keep their faith and practice it openly upon surrender. In the case of Jerusalem, most of the city had fled at the news of the incoming Christian army.  When the Crusaders broke through the defenses and took the city, they did kill many inhabitants, including non-combatants; others were ransomed and some were expelled.

Myth #4: The Crusades were also wars against the Jews and should be considered the first Holocaust.

As the First Crusaders marched through Europe on their way to the Holy Land via Constantinople, many smaller bands of armed men followed in their wake.  A leader of one of these bands, Count Emich took it upon himself to march down the Rhine valley targeting various Jewish communities.

Emich embraced the anti-Semitic notion that it was pointless for Crusaders to march 2,500 miles to fight Islam when there were “enemies of Christ” in their midst.  His force engaged in pogroms in numerous German towns in search of money and a misguided and unsanctioned sense of holiness.  The Church in no way endorsed Count Emich’s tactics and many bishops tried to protect local Jews; indeed, the Bishop of Speyer had those engaged in pogroms arrested, tried and punished.  The Bishop of Mainz allowed local Jews to take up refuge in his palace; unfortunately, Count Emich violated this sanctuary, stormed the palace and killed them all.  It is important to note that numerous contemporary chronicles condemn the actions of Emich and like-minded men.  The Church also actively spoke out against such outrages.

During the time of the Second Crusade (1147 – 1149), St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who after the Pope was the most well-known and respected churchman in Christendom, spoke out strongly against anti-Semitism.  He wrote, “We have heard with joy that zeal for God burns in you, but wisdom must not be lacking from this zeal.  The Jews are not to be persecuted, nor killed, nor even forced to flee.”[6]

A Cistercian monk named Radulf preached and exhorted the people to engage in pogroms in the Rhineland.  Upon hearing reports of Radulf’s preaching, St. Bernard went to Germany, severely rebuked Radulf and sent him back to his monastery.

None of the anti-Jewish “armies” made it to the East, after their rampage of murder and plunder, the brigands dispersed.  So, these groups cannot accurately be called Crusaders.  Although numerous Jewish populations were harmed during the time of the crusading movement, these attacks were not directly part of the movement as none of the main armies participated in them and the Church did not sanction the attacks, rather, she worked to stop them.

Myth #5:  The Crusades are the source of the modern tension between Islam and the West

Those searching for answers to explain the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have turned to the Crusades.  They cite the Crusades as the reason for Islamic hatred of the West and believe Muslims are trying to “right the wrongs” of centuries of oppression stemming from the Crusades.  Little do these individuals know that the Crusades were mostly forgotten in the Islamic world until the 20thcentury.

From an Islamic perspective, the Crusades were an insignificant historical period, only lasting 195 years (from 1096 – 1291); interestingly, the first Arabic history of the Crusades was not written until 1899.  The main reason for this lack of interest stemmed from the fact that the Crusades were unsuccessful in establishing the permanent liberation of the Holy Land.

As an example of the lack of import Islam placed on the Crusades concerns Kaiser Wilhelm II (1888 –1918) and the Muslim general Saladin.

Saladin was the great liberator of Jerusalem, re-conquering the city from the Christians in 1187 after a decisive victory over a large Christian army at the Battle of Hattin.  He also fought battles against the legendary King Richard I, the Lionheart, during the Third Crusade, as a result, the name and fame of Saladin was well remembered in Europe throughout the centuries.  In 1899, Kaiser Wilhelm traveled to Damascus and while there desired to visit the tomb of Saladin.  When he found it, he was shocked at its dilapidated state.  The tomb of the man who had united Islam in the 12th century and re-conquered most of the Crusader states, had been forgotten and allowed to decay.  The Kaiser laid a wreath with the inscription, “to the Hero Sultan Saladin” and then paid for the restoration of the tomb. [7]

It wasn’t until widespread European colonialism after the breakup of the Ottoman Turkish Empire in the early 20th century that the Crusades came to be used as anti-imperialist propaganda both in European academia and in the Muslim world.  This propaganda has, unfortunately, found widespread acceptance and focus in the Muslim world and has led to a gross historical misunderstanding.

One Crusade historian has remarked how “generations of Arab school children have been taught that the crusades were a clear case of good vs. evil.  Rapacious and zealous crusaders swept into a peaceful and sophisticated Muslim world leaving carnage and destruction in their wake.”[8]

This false history was exploited by the likes of Osama bin Laden and continues with other Jihadists groups today, which frequently use crusading imagery and even the term “crusaders” in relation to the Western world.  Mehmet Ali Ağca, the man who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II, was enamored with this false history as he stated, “I have decided to kill Pope John Paul II, supreme commander of the crusades.”[9]

There are many reasons for the current tension between Islam and the West but the Crusades are not one of them. In The New Concise History of the Crusades Thomas Madden summarizes the situation today well:

“…that led to the attacks of September 11, but the artificial memory of the crusades constructed by modern colonial powers and passed down by Arab nationalists and Islamists.  They stripped the medieval expeditions of every aspect of their age and dressed them up instead in the tattered rags of 19th century imperialism.  As such, they have become an icon for modern agendas that medieval Christians and Muslims could scarcely have understood, let alone condoned.”[10]

Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized the need for a “New Evangelization” to re-spread the Faith to areas of the world where it has been lost or forgotten.  Part of the New Evangelization is learning the authentic history of the Church and Western Civilization.  No greater example, of an area where authentic learning is paramount, is found than the Crusades.

[1] Hilaire Belloc, The Crusades – the World’s Debate, ( Rockford, IL:  TAN Books and  Publishers, Inc., 1992), 17.
[2] Thomas Madden, New Concise History of the Crusades, (New York, NY:  Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005), 12.
[3] Quoted in Ibid., 148.
[4] Quoted in Regine Pernoud, The Crusaders – the Struggle for the Holy Land, trans. Enid Grant, (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 2003) 23.
[5] Madden, New Concise History, 13.
[6] St. Bernard, Epistolae, quoted in Chronicles of the Crusades, ed. Elizabeth Hallam, (New York, NY:  Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1989), 126.
[7] Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades – A History, 2nd ed., (New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press, 2005), 305.
[8] Madden, New Concise History, 220.
[9] Madden, editor, Crusades the Illustrated History, (Ann Arbor, MI:  The University of Michigan Press, 2004), 208.
[10] Madden, New Concise History, 222. END QUOTES

This IS Our Faith; what has long begun continues: by Patrick Miron

This is IS our Faith…

What has long begun continues

Lesson #5 to be mailed May 26th.  2019

 (Mark 16:15) (You!)Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.”

 Ps 145:10-11, 12-13, 21

“Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might.
Making known to men your might and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations. May my mouth speak the praise of the LORD, and may all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.: Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom”

Today’s Subject is … “If YOU ain’t got “it”; how are YOU gonna share “it” (paraphrasing what Father John A. Hardon taught me: “you can’t share what you don’t have.”… May he rest in Glorious peace.) …

PS: If you Got “it” Flaunt “It” & if you ain’t got “It” Get “It”.

Lesson #5

To be mailed May 26th, 2019

“If YOU Ain’t Got “it” Get ”it” so you can’t Share “it”

         I remember a meeting with Cardinal Burke some years ago. A small group of us during a break were casually discussing the Roman Curia, and His Eminence let it slip that “to be effective you can’t be bashful or timid.” It occurs to me that this is Prudent (Holy Spirit shared) advice for today’s topic.

          Welcome friends! Today’s Lesson is going to evolve around the tiny WORD IT.” A small word with LOT’S of meaning for us in our evangelization efforts. What is the “it” we have to have; Why do we have “it” ; Where do we get “it”; and What might (and should) we do once we do have “it?”

          What is the “it” we have to have?

          At first thought this might seem apparent to each of us. We obviously must know our faith well enough to be able to share it. But is that all “it” means? I think not. And here’s why:

          Not each of us is called to be a teacher as we commonly understand that term. Yet each and every one of us is expected by Jesus to in some manner share our faith. All of the gifts we have come from Jesus with “strings” attached. (I’m loaning YOU this gift so that you can use it to help build up ”MY Church” … Mt 16:18). The one gift that we all are given is our personal life-example. Do, or can others recognize that we are Christians by our “Love?” (Do we swear; gossip; brag; exaggerate or lie? What you do in and on public media such as Facebook is also an opportunity to evidence that YOU are a Christian.) All public actions cast a shadow and reflect on how we are perceived by others. Each of these failings can be overcome through prayer and by asking the Holy Spirit to help us overcome a bad habit. A wise person once noted “that the only bible most folks will read is US.” How we live our lives is to reflect Christ Sacrificial Love for each of us. If a stranger came into your home; would they know that you are Christians without words? Each of us CAN be a teacher without actually being a “teacher.” And That “It” is what each of us must aim to do. We need to strive to influence all those we encounter; beginning with our families, we need to be the good examples that they can follow. If they are in some manner “failing” God; we must not criticize them (especially publically), rather by patience and PRAYER, and most importantly by our personal examples, strive to help them overcome these all to0 common weaknesses. How we Worship at Mass is another opportunity to influence others; especially how we receive our LORD in Holy Communion. It is GOD and our actions and bodies must reflect this belief. (Do NOT let FEAR keep us apart 2 Corinthians 7:1.) I would add that how one conducts ourselves in business dealings is also something we need to be concerned about, as is a part of the real and very public you.

Secondly: is the “Faith Knowledge” issue. Certainly each of is obligated to have sufficient Faith knowledge to be able to live our Catholic Faith fully and to explain it when challenged to do so. (This YOU know having put up with my attempts to share and explain our Beautiful Catholic Faith for years now, with most of you (THANKS!!!!!!! I Do remember and pray for all of you daily). We must be like the Boy Scouts (used to be) and “Be Prepared” as we never know when the Holy Spirit will give us an opportunity to explain to the unbelieving, or mis-believing; our Faith and practices. And I yet to meet one who didn’t have questions, or was in some manner, dare I say “anxious” to challenge us if given the opportunity to do so. (As I found out again recently at a family gathering.)

          A critical element here is Bible Knowledge for at least two good reasons.

  1. It is the Word; that is the teachings of our God. Sharing and teaching us much of what we are to believe and practice.
  2. None Catholics don’t expect US Catholics to be bible “savvy”; while they often perceive themselves to “be experts.” (This is a case of the spiritually blind attempting to lead ‘the blind’ “). Many can quote Sacred Scripture without actually rightly understanding what it is they are quoting. … That’s a training pro-forma of many Protestant churches; following the FREEING advice if Martin Luther: “everyone is their OWN-priest.” And thousands of Christian churches; each with its own different and freely chosen faith-beliefs and a great many have eagerly embraced this freedom. (It’s interesting though, that such a freedom is NOT in the bible. {Matthew 10:1-8; Mt. 16:15-19; Ephesians 4: 1-7;& 2 8:18-20 quoted below:

 King James Version w/ Apocrypha

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spake unto THEM, saying , All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.19 Go YOU therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded YOU: and, lo , I am with YOU always , even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Directly; specifically and exclusively; From a Catholic and to and for Catholics.)

Clearly the Command here by Jesus; is directly, explicitly and exclusively to the Apostles and their successors, and it is the reality that Christ Catholic Church are to be the dissemination channel for Christ teachings in order to insure the “fullness” (accuracy)  of those truths. This is evidenced by the fact that after 2,000 years we still have basically the Same One true Faith of the Apostles.

          The Catholic Church, at least in my lifetime has emphasized what the bible “teaches and means” rather than, dare I say, “Simply” what it “says” which Protestants give a common emphasis too. And even then when the literal words don’t meet their agenda or expectations; they either attempt to redefine the obviously truths, (Mt 16:18-19; John 6 and John 10:19-23 for examples.) or they might ignore them all together. Sadly what “it says” frequently has different meaning and understanding for each separate church and at times even for different members of those churches. They seem to struggle greatly with the logical and Moral reality of One God; having just One True set of faith beliefs which Jesus both desired, and commanded be taught through His One True Church; the Catholic Church (John 17: 17-20; Matthew 28:18-20; & Ephesians 4: 4-5.)

           Greater knowledge of the Bible is critical for all of us who the Holy Spirit has called to be “teachers.” Reading the Bible with prayer can be a Joyful experience. ”One can simply not know too much about the bible; and we should ideally be able to quote At least some Scripture passages in our explanations and defense of our Catholic Faith. At a minimum one should be able to access a Catholic Bible with “SEARCH” capabilities and have access to Catholic Bible commentaries. Here are the resources that I use. Each is free and I suggest that you add them to your Start-Up page.

          Prudence therefore commands that we, all of us spend time daily in the Bible; especially the New Testament. It is a WISE commitment to spend at least 15 minutes every day reading the bible. Perhaps you’ll come to look forward to these brief encounter with Christ; the very Wisdom of God.

          Here are some very good & FREE reference tools you can add to your start up page. (right click your mouse and drag and drop the address to your home screen.)

Douay Catholic Bible:

RSV Catholic Bible:

The Parallel Bible Search:

And here are some FREE Catholic Commentaries

The DOUAY Catholic Commentary:

The Haydock Commentary: tps://

& Two from Thomas Aquinas

(On Johns Gospel)

(Others from Thomas Aquinas-  “GOOGLE THIS”

For an in-depth study on Philippians and other letters by St. Paul, see St. Thomas Aquinas’ commentary.

If you know of others PLEASE let me know and I’ll share the information.

          I also recently discovered that one can GOOGLE just about any bible teaching and get the reference hits.

          Having now shared a Booklet on the “WHAT”, let us now proceed to the: Why do we have “it”

Today I choose to reread 1st. Corinthians chapter12, and guess what I DISCOVERED:

1 Cor. 12:25 “[25] That there might be no schism in the body; but the members might be mutually careful one for another.”

And here is the King James Version of that same teaching:

Results for nkjv (New King James)

25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another…” I had never noticed THAT before. Interesting! Hmmm, I wonder how our friends explain this teaching?

1 Cor. 13: 6 “[6] Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth

1 Cor. 14:5 [5] And I would have you all to speak with tongues, but rather to prophesy. For greater is he that prophesieth, than he that speaketh with tongues: unless perhaps he interpret, that the church may receive edification.” (First we are to save ourselves and then endeavor MIGHTLY to save others as well.)

          The “What” is the knowledge we have that permits us to share with Charity, evidenced THRU clarity. To be an effective evangelist many things are important.  Among them are knowledge of our Faith beliefs and practices. But never forget that God is with you and on your side; let Him do His job too. What we believe and WHY we can believe it (and ideally evidenced from the Catholic Bible).Knowledge of the bible evidence, or at least the computer skills to research and find the evidence is a key when dealing with non-Catholics especially.  And these are shored up with a STRONG prayer and Sacramental life. We are to be but conduits of the Holy Spirit, so being in the state of God’s grace is critically important. Our personal relationships with God will be a huge factor in our degree of effectiveness; although all conversions are God’s exclusive domain. He works as HE Wills through us; hence being in the state of His grace is of paramount importance. We are not to get frustrated by OUR failures; but to GLORIFY the Lord for His accomplishing what He desires through each of us. Our only expectation should be to have great “FAITH.”  Humility is to be a much sought, often prayed for Virtue. I have read Saints that claimed that “one cannot attain heaven without humility.” (Note please that by intent I made a statement without supplying the evidence; that’s a huge No NO!) So here is the evidence:

          Don’t be taken aback or discouraged by not having ALL of the information at your “fingertips.” If you don’t know the answer don’t PRETEND that you do. “Fess-up” and say that you’ll get the information for them and then DO IT! Fabricating or lying is far worse than not knowing the answer. I’ve had to do this and even some priest have had to do this when I ASKED a tough question.

“The virtue of humility may be defined: “A quality by which a person considering his own defects has a lowly opinion of himself and willingly submits himself to God and to others for God’s sake.” St. Bernard defines it: “A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself.” These definitions coincide with that given by St. Thomas: “The virtue of humility”, he says, “Consists in keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior” (Summa Contra Gent., bk. IV, ch. lv, tr. Rickaby)”

“Humility is, however, said to be the foundation of the spiritual edifice, but in a sense inferior to that in which faith is called its foundation. Humility is the first virtue inasmuch as it removes the obstacles to faith — per modum removens prohibens, as St. Thomas says. It removes pride and makes a man subject to and a fit recipient of grace according to the words of St. James: “God resisteth the proud, and giveth his grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Faith is the first and the positive fundamental virtue of all the infused virtues, because it is by it we can take the first step in the supernatural life and in our access to God: “For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him” Hebrews 11:6). Humility, inasmuch as it seems to keep the mind and heart submissive to reason and to God, has its own function in connection with faith and all the other virtues, and it may therefore be said to be a universal virtue.

It is therefore a virtue which is necessary for salvation, and as such is enjoined by Our Divine Saviour, especially when He said to His disciples: “Learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls” (Matthew 11:29). He also teaches this virtue by the words, “Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).” And look HERE, we do have some biblical evidence.”; and while it’s not completely from the bible it is nevertheless from an authoritive Catholic Site. The Catholic Encyclopedia.

          Next is “Where do we get “it”?

          That depends on exactly what you’re seeking. As a basic rule go first to the Bible, and then other Catholic sources. We ought not to expect that any of these inquires will be, or for that matter, should be satisfied with our personal opinions.

          Each of you have already built for yourselves a very SOLID foundation by hanging in there with me for all the Lessons we have shared Perhaps some of you may even have kept some of them for reference material? When searching; pray first, and then allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to what you need.  You can always contact me or your Pastor and ask for help on specific issues and questions. If I don’t know, I generally know someone who can help us. 

          If you’re looking for an excellent and FREE Bible Study; check out this one:       it’s excellent and you can work at your own pace too.

Here are a few more sites that I use often or as needed:

Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary (which is amazing)

The Catholic Encyclopedia

And extensive research source on the Eucharist, and the Mass

The ETN Network Libraries (with search)

The 1983 Code of Canon Law

The Catechism of the RCC

Strong’s Concordance with
Hebrew and Greek Lexicon

The Catechism of the Council of TRENT


What is the Catholic Church?

Catholic Church Saints

Timeline of the entire Bible

Sharing the NT Timeline to prove that the Bible is a Catholic Book is something I have used many times.

List of ALL Popes (excellent)

“What is Catholicism?” (and some other faiths as well

Interesting site information; BUT it is a non-Catholic site so be careful how you use this information, and check the Catholic encyclopedia as well

If anyone has any other good reference sites; PLEASE let me know so that I can share that information.

Here are a couple sent to me:

Also, Taylor Marshall has a ton of stuff on Thomas Acquinas.

“I probably use the same ones you do – New Advent, New Liturgical Movement, etc. But, in addition, I can also highly recommend essays by Fr. Rutler, as they are always orthodox and brimming with solid history.”

“New Liturgical Movement site”

           And What might (and should) we do once we do have “it?”

Quote: This is great! Really enjoyed it. Such an important discussion, and so crucial to our understanding the faith.  (Re: “God do you really accept my faith beliefs?”) If anyone would like to read this Lesson just let me know, (Thanks Patrick)

Below I have attached an interesting article about protestant vs Catholic views of sacrifice and memorials. There is an interesting exchange in the comments between the author, Craig, and a protestant commenter, Hans. Craig is trying to clear up for Hans that the word “remembrance” has a very specific, sacramental meaning in koine Greek when speaking about Jewish religious practices that goes far beyond our common, everyday understanding of “remembrance” in English. This is something I’ve tried to explain to my protestant friends many times. “Remembrance” is an actual term of art that has a particular meaning in Jewish religious practice. That word doesn’t mean at all what protestants assume.

A Jewish memorial feast was NOT one where one simply “remembered” a past event or “brought events to mind” for reflection or contemplation. We know this, because God gives VERY explicit directions for how the Memorial Feast of Passover was to be performed, that is, as a literal RE-ENACTMENT of the event. They were told to wear shoes inside the house, dressed for the road, to eat standing up, in haste, as if about to start off urgently on a long journey. That’s what “remembrance” or “memorial” means in the context of a memorial feast. The event is “re-presented”, as we say of the Eucharist – that is, made present once again, as if we were literally standing at the foot of the cross in that moment. It does not mean to merely bring Jesus to mind, as the word “remember” means in English today. The Eucharist is more like an act in a play in which we are all actors taking part than a passive moment of solemn contemplation conjuring up a mental image of Jesus, each in the privacy of his own mind. This is where protestants and Catholics miss each other in clear communication when discussing the sacrifice of the Eucharist. As is so often the case, they simply don’t understand the words we are using, because they assume the modern English meaning is what we are using, rather than the proper understanding of the original Greek sense of the word. (Another example is the word “sacrifice” which they seem to associate only with the bloody animal sacrifice, ignoring the famous unbloody sacrifice of King Melchizedek who sacrificed bread and wine. The New Testament makes it explicit that the unbloody sacrifice will be the sacramental form going forward – “you are a priest in the order of Melchizedek forever”, but that, too, is overlooked or misunderstood.)

I ran into similar difficulties whenever I would try to explain what is meant by “God in Three Persons” to my JW father. He could never believe that Christians are NOT talking about three separate, individual “persons”, ie, 3 unique people . I tried to explain to him that “persons” doesn’t refer to an individual person, like a human being, but rather comes from the Latin “persona” meaning “mask” or “faces” – ie, God in three differing “masks” or representations, like three faces of a cube, three ways of appearing to us, three forms of same matter (ice, water, steam) etc. he could never get past his notion that the word “person” means what it does in everyday English. I suspect that 90% of the objections to Catholicism by sincere believing protestants fall into this category of linguistic misunderstanding. (THAT IS A FACINATING THOUGHT…PJM)These kinds of pointless discussions demonstrate why we are admonished not to “lean on our own understanding” but to submit to good teaching. Martin Luther’s satanic advice “every man his own priest!” has created the same confusion and discord as the Tower of Babel.

Anyway, this article discusses this interesting topic further:  End Quoted


          Friends this is an EXCELLENT, five-star article that I encourage you to GOGGLE and read.

          Just what we are to do with our now acquired learning will vary for each one of us. Prayer is the KEY to discernment; seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God”; meaning allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to where and what God has planned for you.

Matthew 6:31-34 “[31] Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? [32] For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. [33] Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you[34] Be not therefore solicitous for tomorrow; for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.”

            A s I have often shared, what we do for Jesus is secondary to what Jesus wants to do in and through us, when we permit Him to lead us. This takes courage and humility. I’ll share a brief event in my doing so…

          Many years ago now, when I was still working in a sales management position, I was in Las Vegas for a convention. The first day there was “Good Friday” so I skipped out of some of stuff and went  to a local Catholic Church from 12 to 3pm. Just sitting there as no priest was present and no Deacon to even lead the Stations of the Cross. There were a couple of dozen people there in church. After more than an hour I started to get this thought that I couldn’t sake that GOD wanted me to get a bible are read an account of His Passion. So after MUCH procrastination, I made a deal with GOD! “God if YOU want me to do this; GIVE ME A SIGN.”… All of a sudden I got an incredibly dry throat. (I had noticed a drinking fountain in the public-space when I entered); I had ALSO told GOD that I “didn’t have a bible”…. So I got up & went to the rear of the Church to get a drink…. Yep! There was a bible sitting right next to it.

          Sooooo, I went back in and sat down, and prayed; GOD are You SURE that you want me to do this?”… And I just knew the answer was “yes.” So with trepidation I opened the Bible to Matthew 26:36 and began to read the Christ Passion account. As SOON as I had started it, an elderly lady quickly got and nearly ran to the rear of the church (yea I knew what was coming), sure enough in but a few minutes a priest came in and tapped me on the shoulder, and said “Please don’t do that people are trying to pray.”

          I closed the Bible, said “thank you LORD”, and left. God is not bashful about testing us; but if we do His Will; He’ll provide everything that we need. I have been so blessed from that moment on; not without Crosses and further trials, but nevertheless, TRULY Blessed. This was an “If YOU love Me; SHOW Me moment.”

          What are we to do? ASK God what His plans for you are> Amen But here are some possibilities; some opportunities.

          If you’re unsure after a week or so of daily prayers; ask your other (better half), your best friend and or your pastor (or all of them.). What do they think you’re best suited for?

          The POSTING (by an attorney friend) I shared with you above is an example of what One of US is doing. But we need to candidly search our hearts and seek out what God has prepared for us to do for His Church. Here are a few suggested options open to many of us:

          Teaching in RCIA or your Parish School of Religion (I’ve done both.)

          Being active on Catholic Media {as most of you know I was very active on Catholic Answers for 10 years. Now that it has been taken for by a very LIBERAL management staff (and having received FOUR “warnings” (none of which would have happened under the old management where with nearly 14,000POST and 3 warnings} within about a month; I KNEW they wanted me to Out. So having other teaching options I obliged them. I was “warned and Blocked for at first 2 weeks then a month. While I have not the least problem with their monitors; NOT being told the nature and the specifics of the supposed abuse was more aggravation than I needed at age 74. But there certainly is a NEED for true Catholic representation on the CAF site. So here is the contact info if you do not already have it.

If I ever run out of positive things to do, I may give it another shot. But in the months I have been off it; that has never been the case.

           There is another Catholic site that is better BUT not nearly as active. But check it out:  But know that this IS a very tightly monitored site; but done fairly.

          Then there is Facebook and the like (which I personally avoid), but it too COULD be an avenue for some of you.

          I don’t recommend the Protest (Protestant) sites as they can get mean and spiteful in a hurry. My experience with them is what you explain and evidence make not a darn bit of difference; so now I just pray for them.

          There are often non-teaching opportunities at the Parish Level too such as ushering, working in the Office; cleaning the Church or one the many ministries the Parish has going. Just check with your pastor and most likely he will find a “job” for you.

          What we do is not as important as doing SOMETHING to help the Body of Christ; His Church grow or perform better. Then what ever we do; we must strive to do our very best at doing it. As Jesus is REALLY our “Boss.” And friends, in everything you do PRAY.

           I’d LOVE to hear from some of you. Any ideas or sites we can share, or TOPICS that interest YOU; all help me help all of Us. If you are already active in evangelization; we’d love your stories and suggestions too.

          So until next time; we can’t pray too much; and please do get into your Bible daily.

To Jesus THROUGH Mary,


 This Weeks Bonus Reading:

 Limiting Muslim immigration is patriotic, U.S. cardinal says

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke speaks at a pro-life and pro-family conference in Rome May 17, 2019. The cardinal said limiting Muslim immigration is responsible and patriotic. (CNS Photo/Robert Duncan)

By Robert Duncan • Catholic News Service • Posted May 20, 2019

ROME (CNS) — Limiting the number of Muslims allowed to immigrate to traditionally Christian nations would be a prudent decision on the part of politicians, said U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke.

During a pro-life and pro-family conference in Rome May 17, the day before Italy’s March for Life, Cardinal Burke outlined his views on immigration.

“To resist large-scale Muslim immigration in my judgment is to be responsible,” Cardinal Burke said, responding to a written question.

Islam “believes itself to be destined to rule the world,” he said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what has happened in Europe,” the cardinal said, citing the large Muslim immigrant populations in France, Germany and Italy.

Cardinal Burke’s comments are the latest addition to a debate among Catholics regarding the application of Gospel precepts to the large numbers of migrants arriving in Western nations from Africa and the Middle East.

In early May, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the pope’s almoner, told a reporter that the Vatican would refuse a papal blessing to Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, who is known for his restrictive immigration policies.

Cardinal Burke said that the while the church must be generous to “individuals that are not able to find a way of living in their own country,” this is not the case for many Muslim migrants, “who are opportunists.”

The cardinal mentioned the book “No Go Zones: How Sharia Law is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You,” written by former Breitbart News reporter Raheem Kassam, as evidence that Muslim immigration is having an effect even in the United States.

Pope Francis has made a generous attitude toward migrants a cornerstone of his pontificate, underlining the Christian duty to “welcome the stranger” over political or demographic considerations, although he repeatedly has added that government leaders have a responsibility to assess how many migrants their countries truly can integrate. Such an assessment should include the financial costs of helping immigrants learn the local language and customs, the pope has said.

Answering the written question from a conference participant, Cardinal Burke said Christian nations’ abandonment of traditional moral norms has been a cause of Europe’s Muslim influx.

“Muslims have said that they are able today to accomplish what they were not able to accomplish in the past with armaments because Christians no longer are ready to defend their faith, what they believe; they are no longer ready to defend the moral law,” the cardinal said.

Another reason for the demographic shift, the cardinal said, is that “Christians are not reproducing themselves,” referring to the widespread use of contraceptives.

In this context, Catholics have a duty to instruct migrants on “what is bankrupt in the culture” into which they are received. To the extent possible, Catholics should even to try to work with them “to recover what is true culture,” which includes a recognition of the dignity of life, respect for sexual morality and proper worship of God, the cardinal said.

In view of these considerations, limiting “large-scale Muslim immigration is in fact, as far as I’m concerned, a responsible exercise of one’s patriotism,” Cardinal Burke said.

In April, Cardinal Burke contributed a foreword to a book titled, “Love for the Papacy and Filial Resistance to the Pope in the History of the Church,” by Roberto de Mattei, an Italian historian.

“At a time of profoundest spiritual and moral crisis, the Catholic Church needs more than ever before to recall her sacred tradition, unbroken from the time of the apostles,” the cardinal wrote.

Cardinal Burke, 70, is perhaps best known as one of four cardinals who, opposed to the possibility that some divorced and civilly remarried couples might eventually be readmitted to the sacraments, wrote a series of “dubia” or doubts about Pope Francis’ 2016 exhortation on the family, “Amoris Laetitia.”

Another speaker at the conference, Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands, said gender theory undermines the roles of mothers, fathers and married spouses. It also impairs the biological relationship between parents and children and harms the ability to share the church’s teachings about God as a Holy Trinity.

“In this way, damage is also inflicted on the analogy between the relationship between Christ and the church on the one hand and the relationship between husband and wife on the other,” he said.

Gender theory “radically contradicts the church’s teaching that the place of a sexual relationship can only be between a man and woman, within matrimony, and must always be open to procreation,” the cardinal said.

The cardinal, who trained as a medical doctor before he became a priest, said those who experience gender dysphoria experience “great suffering,” and they should be “taken seriously.”

They need to be offered psychological support, including psychotherapy, he said. The answer is not hormonal treatment or surgery.

“Surgery is not the good answer to a psychological problem.” End Quotes


Contributing to this story was Deborah Gyapong.

To Jesus Through Mary,


Jn 15:4a, 5b

Alleluia, alleluia.
“Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.” (This IS the reality of Catholic Holy Communion; You, Go Now and bear much fruit.)


Jn 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”


Love, gratitude and prayers, until next time,


“O Mary, Conceived Without Sin … ” by Scott P. Richert



Very interesting articles. I’ve always believed the young child Mary was indeed a sacred “handmaiden” in Temple service. From the standpoint of cultural practices of the Mediterranean littoral, girls of poor parentage often were presented to the Temple for their safekeeping/room and board. This was a custom in both Greece and Rome, as well. In Rome, the ancient cult of the Vestal Virgins is a close analogy. There, too, the girls accepted into the cloister were under a perpetual vow of virginity. I know the actual evidence for Temple virgins is sketchy, BUT, one evidence is what I think of as “negative evidence”. That is when you see later Jewish authorities denying what was pretty clearly approved prior to and during the life of Christ. For example, later Jewish scholars denied the Septuagint and authoritative but we know it WAS authoritative during the life of Christ. Likewise, later Jewish scholars denied there was a tradition of Temple virgins. But earlier writings clearly support the institution. Why the later denial? It seems clear that it’s a political attempt to undercut claims about Christ (or in this case, his holy mother). Sometimes you can see the truth more clearly precisely because deniers attempt to cover it up and hide it!
Sent from my iPad

From a very close friend and church historian,



What Is the Immaculate Conception?

“O Mary, Conceived Without Sin … “

by Scott P. Richert

Pascal Deloche/Getty Images

Updated February 05, 2017

Few doctrines of the Catholic Church are as misunderstood as the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which Catholics celebrate every year on December 8. Many people, including many Catholics, think that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That event, though, is celebrated at the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25, nine months before Christmas).

What is the Immaculate Conception?


The Immaculate Conception refers to the condition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. We celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary—her birth—on September 8; nine months before that is December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.


Fr. John Hardon, S.J., in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, notes that “Neither the Greek nor Latin Fathers explicitly taught the Immaculate Conception, but they professed it implicitly.” It would take many centuries, though, for the Catholic Church to recognize the Immaculate Conception as a doctrine—as something which all Christians must believe—and many more before Pope Pius IX, on December 8, 1854, would declare it a dogma—that is, a doctrine that the Church teaches was revealed by God Himself.


In the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX wrote that “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

As Father Hardon further writes, the Blessed Virgin’s “freedom from sin was an unmerited gift of God or special grace, and an exception to the law, or privilege, which no other created person has received.”


Another misconception people have is that Mary’s Immaculate Conception was necessary to ensure that Original Sin would not be passed on to Christ. This has never been a part of the teaching on the Immaculate Conception; rather, the Immaculate Conception represents Christ’s saving grace operating in Mary in anticipation of His redemption of man and in God’s foreknowledge of Mary’s acceptance of His Will for her.

In other words, the Immaculate Conception was not a precondition for Christ’s act of redemption but the result of that act. It is the concrete expression of God’s love for Mary, who gave herself fully, completely, and without hesitation to His service.

For more on the development of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, see the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. END QUOTES


Immaculate Conception, Assumption, and Queenship

A Catholic named Robert writes, asking…

<< Dear Mark, What proof do we have that early Christians also believed in the Immaculate Conception and in the Assumption? What do the Fathers of the Church say about this? God Bless, Robert >>

Dear Robert, thanks for writing.

For a FULL ARTICLE on the Theology and History of the Immaculate Conception

You ask two very good questions, yet the early Christian belief in the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption must be approached in two different ways.

The Immaculate Conception

Let’s take the Immaculate Conception first. As you probably know, the Immaculate Conception of Mary was declared to be a dogma of the Church in 1854. Before that time, it was merely what we call a theolegoumenon (a theological opinion). Thus, before the Church solemnly defined it in 1854, Catholics were free to either believe in the Immaculate Conception or reject it. Indeed, even some of our greatest Catholic saints, such as Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux (who had profound devotions to Our Lady) had serious problems with the idea that she was conceived without original sin (although they believed she was personally sinless). Yet, despite this, there were also others in the Church, such as St. Bonaventure and Blessed Duns Scotus who championed the Immaculate Conception. So, the Immaculate Conception was a debated question in the Church for centuries.

However, what was NOT a matter of debate was Mary’s sinlessness. The universal witness of the Church, from Pentecost until today, has always professed that Mary was without sin. The only question was: “When did her sinlessness begin”? And it was from this question that we arrive at the Immaculate Conception. Indeed, even those saints of the Church (like Aquinas or Bernard) who rejected the Immaculate Conception, STILL taught that Mary was sinless; and they suggested that her sinlessness began at the time of her birth, rather than at her conception. And we see this belief in Mary’s sinlessness going back to the earliest days of the Church. For example, ….

Around 390 AD, St. Augustine writes:

“Every personal sin must be excluded from the Blessed Virgin Mary for the sake of the honor of God.”

Similarly, St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397) says:

“Mary, a virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free from every stain.”

Likewise, the Greek Liturgies of both St. Basil the Great (d. 379) and St. John Chrysostom (d. 407) call Mary “Panagia” (“All-Holy One”) and “Panagiota” (“All-Sinless One”).

Furthermore, in the Syrian Church, we have St. Ephraem the Syrian (c. 350), who says:

“Thou, and Thy Mother are alone in this. You are wholly beautiful in every respect. There is in Thee, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in Thy Mother.” (Poem to Christ)


“My Lady Most Holy, All-Pure, All-Immaculate, All-Stainless, All-Undefiled, All-Incorrupt, All-Inviolate …Spotless Robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment …Flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone Most Immaculate.” (Ibid)

Also, the Syrian St. John Damascene (645-750) speaks of Mary, saying: “The serpent never entered that Paradise.”

Likewise, among the early Church Fathers, we have St. Irenaeus of Lyon (a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was the disciple of St. John the Apostle himself — the caretaker of Mary, according to John 19:26-27). And, according to St. Irenaeus, writing in 180 AD, we are told,

“Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying: ‘Behold, O Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word.’ Eve, however, was disobedient; and when yet a virgin, she did not obey…. having become disobedient, was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race…. Thus, the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the virgin Mary loosed through faith.” (Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, Book III c. 180 AD)

Here, St. Irenaeus uses “virginity” as a sign of sinlessness (i.e. Mary was sinless just as Eve was sinless before the Fall).

So, the Tradition of Mary’s sinlessness was always there. The only question was: When did this sinlessness begin?

Like I said, for centuries, it was the prevailing belief that Mary was “saved” and thereafter preserved from sin from the moment of her birth (not her conception). This is what St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) and St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) argued for when they disagreed with the Immaculate Conception. Yet, neither these two medieval fathers, nor any of the ancients, ever questioned Mary’s sinlessness. Rather, Mary’s sinlessness was a given; and all Christians until relatively recent times, including Martin Luther himself, maintained that Mary’s sinlessness is taught in the Bible.

For example, when we first meet Mary in Scripture, in Luke 1:28, the angel Gabriel greets her with the phrase: “Hail, Full of Grace” — a phrase which most modern Bibles mistranslate as “highly favored one” or even “highly favored daughter.” Yet those words are not in the original Greek. In the Greek, it is “Kecharitomenae” — literally, “Full of grace” or “Perfectly graced” implying an “overflowing” or “abundance” of grace.

Furthermore, the angel Gabriel uses this as a proper name for Mary; and we all know the significance of names in the Bible, right? Names define who and what the person is. For example, Jesus’ Name means: “Yahweh is Salvation.” And, indeed, that’s what Jesus was and is.

So, if Mary is “Full of grace,” how can this be if she was a sinner? One cannot be sinful and “full of grace” or “perfectly graced.” That’s a contradiction.

So, therefore, Mary must have been Baptized into Christ, right? (How else can a person be “full of grace”?) So, the only question is: When was Mary made this? Or, in “Protestant-ese,” when was Mary “saved” ? It must have been before Luke 1:28, right? So, when was it?

We Catholics say that it was at the first moment of her conception in the womb of her mother. Why? Because of Genesis 3:15. Here, God speaks to satan, saying:

“I will place enmity between you (the serpent / satan) and the woman (Eve, or Mary the New Eve), and between your seed (sin /death) and her seed (the Messiah: Jesus), and He (Jesus) will strike at your head (i.e., crush your power), even as you strike at His heel (the Crucifixion).

This verse, according to both Jews and Christians, is the Proto-Evangelion: the first prophecy of the Messiah. And it reveals to us that the Mother of the Redeemer will be placed in opposition to satan, and not under his dominion. Thus, this New Eve could pass a sinless humanity onto her Son, the New Adam.

Yet, as I said, this realization took a while to develop in the Church, not being dogmatized for universal acceptance until 1854. So, we know that the early Church believed that Mary was sinless. Yet, was the Immaculate Conception believed by any Christians in ancient times? Yes it was.

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception comes to us from the Syrian-speaking Church in the East — the branch of early Christianity which was closest in culture to the original, Jewish community of believers. I’ve already presented two of the Syrian fathers, St. Ephraem and St. John Damascene, speaking about how sin never touched the Virgin Mary. Once again, they write,

St. Ephraem the Syrian (c. 350)

“Thou, and Thy Mother are alone in this. You are wholly beautiful in every respect. There is in Thee, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in Thy Mother.” (Poem to Christ).


“My Lady Most Holy, All-Pure, All-Immaculate, All-Stainless, All-Undefiled, All-Incorrupt, All-Inviolate…Spotless Robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment …Flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone Most Immaculate.” (Ibid).

St. John Damascene (645-750):

“The serpent never entered that Paradise.”

“O blessed loins of Joachim, whence the all-pure seed was poured out! O glorious womb of Anna, in which the most holy fetus grew and was formed, silently increasing! O womb in which was conceived the living heaven, wider than the wideness of the heavens…This heaven is clearly much more divine and awesome than the first. Indeed he who created the sun in the first heaven would himself be born of this second heaven, as the Sun of Justice….She is all beautiful, all near to God. For she, surpassing the cherubim, exalted beyond the seraphim, is placed near to God.” (Homily on the Nativity 2, 3, 9 PG 96:664,676)

Fr. Luigi Gambero notes: “John Damascene often speaks of Mary as a sublime creature, filled with spiritual treasures. Accordingly, his homily on the Nativity, for example, goes so far as to make clear and explicit allusions….to the mystery of the Immaculate Conception.” (Mary and the Fathers of the Church [Ignatius Press, 1999], page 401-2)

Indeed, we know that there was a 5th Century feast called the “Immaculate Conception” celebrated in the Syrian Church on December 9th. However, then the Monophysite controversy came along, and many Syrian-speaking Christians embraced the heresy of Monophysitism, which taught that Christ had only one nature (that of God) as opposed to two natures (God and man). At this time, the Greek-speaking Emperor at Constantinople started to replace the native, Syrian-speaking bishops of Antioch and the other Syrian bishoprics with Greek bishops from Constantinople. These Greek bishops were resented by the Syrians, and called “Melchites” (from the Syrian word for “king”) because they had been forced upon them by the Emperor.

Well, these Greek bishops had the Greek understanding of Original Sin (an understanding which is different from the Latin and Syrian understanding, and which is still prevalent in the Eastern Orthodox Church today). And, because of this, serious theological objections to this feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception came into being. Therefore, the feast was eventually withdrawn from both the Greek and the Syrian Liturgical calendar because of these theological disputes (much like the ones we see later in the 13th century). Yet, this December 9th feast was eventually restored in the East, and is still celebrated today in the Eastern Orthodox (Greek) Church as the “Conception of Mary” — a more “politically correct” title for the wary Byzantines.

Yet, the feast of the Immaculate Conception did not disappear all together. In the 7th & 8th Centuries, as Islam was overruning the Christian Middle East and more and more Christian bishops fled to the West, we began to have a lot of Syrians elected as Pope! Among these were Pope John V (685-86), Pope St. Sergius I (687-701), Pope Constantine (708-15), Pope St. Gregory III (731-41), etc. Most likely through their influence, or the influence of their disciples, the Syrian feast of the Immaculate Conception was transported to Italy in the mid 7th century. However, it was later dropped from the Western calendar, because of still more theological disagreements — all of which led to the serious debating of the doctrine in the 1200’s. At this time, the Immaculate Conception was defended by men like St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) and Blessed Duns Scotus (1265-1308) against St. Thomas Aquinas and his Dominicans, who favored Mary’s sinlessness beginning at the time of her birth, rather than at her conception.

Yet, while this debate was still going on, the feast of the Immaculate Conception was re-instated in Italy by Pope Sixtus IV in 1477, moving the date from December 9th to December 8th (the date we use today). Later, in 1708, the feast on December 8th was extended to the entire Church by Pope Clement XI. Then, in 1854, the doctrine was declared an official dogma of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX, thus bringing the theological debate to a close. So, Catholics had celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th for 377 years before the dogma was defined; and, in the East, for 957 years before that on December 9th.

Thus, the Immaculate Conception was always with us. It just took some time for God’s providence to bring it to the forefront.

The Assumption of our Lady

As for the Assumption, the strongest evidence for Mary’s Assumption is, oddly enough, a complete lack of evidence.

That is to say, no early Christian ever claimed to have a bodily relic of Mary, and no city ever claimed to have Mary’s remains. And this is in STARK contrast to the early veneration of the tombs of the Apostles and the other saints of the early Church. For example, everyone knew that the graves of Peter and Paul were at Rome. Likewise, the graves of John and Timothy were at Ephesus. The grave of Luke was in Greece, whereas the grave of Mark was in Alexandria, Egypt; later being transported to Venice. Likewise, the grave of James was at Jerusalem; the grave of Mary Magdalene was at Marseille. And, even the graves of the Old Testament saints were similarly venerated — such as the graves of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at Hebron; the grave of Rachel at Bethlehem (Matt 2:18), and the grave of David in Jerusalem itself (Acts 2:29). So, why did NO early Christian ever speak about a grave of the Virgin Mary? Unless there never was one.

Indeed, in the time of St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107), we had the heresy of the Docetists, who claimed that Jesus did not have an earthly body. St. Ignatius, a disciple of Mary’s caretaker, the Apostle John himself, speaks out against these Docetists in his Epistle to the Ephesians, citing Jesus’ relationship to Mary to prove that the Lord had a true, human body. Yet, if Mary’s grave was available, it would have been used by both Ignatius and the Docetists to support their positions. Ignatius would have argued that Jesus’ body was real because His mother’s body is with us today; and the Docetists would have argued that Jesus’ body was not real because He was not subject to death, whereas His mother’s mortal body was. Yet, we have no mention of this. Why not?

Truth be told, it seems that the earliest Christians chose to remain silent about Mary’s Assumption so that it would not take away from the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. In this, we have to remember that Christianity was still a very new thing, and the main tenets of the Gospel had to be revealed to the world first, before devotion to Mary could properly develop. So, as with the Shroud of Turin, things like Mary’s Assumption were kept as “family secrets.” Not that they were withheld from anyone, but they were simply not widely advertised.

And, as with the Immaculate Conception, the earliest evidence that we have for the Assumption comes to us from the Eastern, non-Greek-speaking Church. Around 390 AD, we have the writings of St. Epiphanius of Salamis. Now, St. Epiphanius was a native of Palestine (so he would have been familiar with all the Sacred Traditions of the original Jewish Church in Jerusalem). Yet, in around 390, St. Epiphanius moved to the Greek island of Cyprus, where he was elected to be the Bishop of Salamis. Thus, around this time, we have this Palestinian bishop writing to his Greek flock about the end of Mary’s earthly life. And, speaking very diplomatically, he writes:

“Say she died a natural death. In that case she fell asleep in glory, and departed in purity and received the crown of her virginity. Or say she was slain with the sword according to Simeon’s prophecy. There her glory is with the martyrs, and she through WHOM THE DIVINE LIGHT SHONE UPON THE WORLD IS IN THE PLACE OF BLISS WITH HER SACRED BODY. Or say she left this world without dying for God can do what He wills. Then she was simply transferred to eternal glory.” (Haer. lxxix, 11).

So, St. Ephiphanis is speaking to his Greek, Cypriot flock — a flock which apparently had no eatablished Tradition about the Assumption. Yet, even so, Epiphanius mentions his own, Palestinian Tradition of the Assumption; and, while he does not force it upon the Greeks since, at this time, it was not a dogma and one did not have to accept it to be in the Church, he does present it to the Greek-speaking world. And he was most certainly not the only one, since the mere fact that he mentions the Assumption in passing shows that it was currently known to be an established belief — an established theolegoumenon (theological opinion), even if it was not yet widely known to the Greek-speaking Church.

Indeed, a similar case comes to us from St. John Damascene. Although he wrote in the 700’s, he tells us a Tradition from his own, Jerusalem city-church about its bishop Juvenal, who represented the Church of Jerusalem at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, about 50 years after St. Epiphanius was writing. And St. John tells us …

“Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem at the Council of Chalcedon (451) made known to the Emperor Marcian and [his Empress] Pulcharia, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles and that her tomb, when opened upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to Heaven.” (Homily on the Dormition, PG 96)

So, this shows us that as late as 451 the Tradition of the Assumption was not widely known within the Greek-speaking world. Indeed, the Emperor and Empresses (who would not have been the most devout of Christians anyway) didn’t know about it, and had to be informed by the Bishop of Jerusalem. So, as I’ve said, it seems that the Assumption of Mary was understood by the Church in a relatively “private” way.

Yet, by the late 5th century, all this changed. The feast of “The Dormition and Assumption of Mary” began to be widely celebrated in the East; and this feast was moved to the West in the 700’s by one of the aforementioned Syrian Popes, St. Sergius I. And, at this point, the Assumption begins to be widely publicized for the first time. Thus, we begin to see the following quotes from the Fathers:

The Pseudo-Augustine (c. 500):

“This venerable day has dawned, the day that surpasses all the festivals of the saints, this most exalted and solemn day on which the Blessed Virgin was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. On this day the queenly Virgin was exalted to the very throne of God the Father, and elevated to such a height that the angelic spirits are in admiration.”

St. Gregory, Bishop of Tours in France (594 AD)

“The Lord . . . commanded the body of Mary be taken in a cloud into paradise; where now, rejoined to the soul, Mary dwells with the chosen ones.”

St. Germaine I, Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 732 AD speaking of Mary)

“Thou art . . . the dwelling place of God . . . exempt from all dissolution into dust.”

St. John Damascene [of Damascus] (c. 700)

“He who had been pleased to become Incarnate (of) her . . . was pleased . . . to honor her immaculate and undefiled body with incorruption . . . prior to the common and universal resurrection.”

And, so, the Assumption continued to be celebrated by the Church’s Liturgy until modern times when, in 1950, it was finally declared to be a dogma of Catholic Christianity.

Queenship of Mary

As for Mary’s Queenship, that’s not even a question for orthodox Christians who have any understanding of the Old Testament. In OT times, the Queen of Israel was not the King’s wife (because the king had many wives — a harem), but rather his mother:

2 Kings 10:13 — ” ‘ We are kinsmen of Ahaziah,’ they replied. ‘We are going down to visit the princes and the family of the queen mother.”

Song of Songs (Songs of Solomon) 3:11 –“Daughters of Jerusalem, come forth and look upon King Solomon. In the crown which his mother has crowned him, on the day of his marriage, on the day of the joy of his heart.”

Jeremiah 13:18 — “Say to the king and to the queen mother: ‘Come down from your throne.’ ”

1 Kings 15:13 — “He also deposed Maacah from her position as queen mother.”

If Christ is the legitimate Messianic King of the true Israel (the Church / Heaven), then Mary is the Queen Mother. This is what the ancient Church believed, and we can multiply examples in the patristic witness, if anyone is interested.

Let me point out a couple things on Mary as “Co-Redemptrix” and “Mediatrix of all grace.” First, all “Co-redemptrix” and “Mediatrix of all grace” refer to is the aspect of redemption that is shared by Christ with His Church, and is exercised by all Christians to one degree or another. For example, in Colossians 1:24, St. Paul says:

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, on behalf of His Body, which is the Church.”

Here what St. Paul is saying is that he is offering up his own sufferings on behalf of his fellow Christians in order to make up for the one and only thing that is “lacking” in Christ’s redeeming Sacrifice on the Cross, which is OUR CONTINUAL ACCEPTANCE of that Sacrifice. This is why Catholics believe that our struggles, sufferings, and hardships can be offered up for the good and salvation of other Christians; and that the merits of the saints in Heaven (that is, their loving and willing total acceptance of Christ) can be applied to others via their prayers.

It’s in this sense, as the most perfect of all Christians, and as the image of the Church herself (Revelations 12:1-3) that the Virgin Mary is Co-Redemptrix with Christ (because the Church herself is such a Co-Redemptrix) and Mediatrix of all grace (because the Church herself is such a Mediatrix of all grace). That is the nature of the Christian mystery before us. At the moment (6/11/02), the doctrines of Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all grace are merely theological opinions within the Church, stemming from traditional Catholic theology and resting upon the Apostolic Deposit of Faith (e.g. Colossians 1:24, etc).

Anyway, I hope that helps. If you have any more questions, please let us know.

Mark J. Bonocore END QUOTES

An Inheritance of Peace Fr. Paul D. Scalia

An Inheritance of Peace

A man facing death sets his affairs in order. He makes arrangements so that his heirs will be well provided for upon his death. This is what our Lord does at the Last Supper. Making the final preparations before His Crucifixion, He leaves an inheritance to the Apostles and through them to the entire Church. Thus He gives us the Eucharist, the new commandment of love (the mandatum), the priesthood, etc.

            We hear of one such gift in today’s Gospel: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. This is part of His last will and testament, of our inheritance. Of course, “peace” is one of those words that we often use and rarely understand. What He intends here is not geopolitical peace but spiritual. Still, the classic definition used in political thought also applies: peace is the tranquility of order.

            Sin has disturbed our souls, set them out of order. Our interior disquiet, in turn, causes disturbances outside of us – in the family, society, and the world as a whole. Christ’s grace within us frees our souls from the disorder of sin. He gives us an interior tranquility of order by configuring us to Himself. Once at peace interiorly, we can then (and only then) be a cause of peace for others.

            Interestingly, our Our Lord says little about peace – not even a full verse. Still, the context of His words indicates its importance, and His precise phrasing reveals its distinctive nature.

            Peace I leave with you. . . .His peace is left to us. It is something received, not seized or manufactured. Like Christ Himself, His peace is “begotten not made.” It is the fruit of His grace within us, and not something we attain by our own cleverness or dint of effort. We can neither think our way to this peace nor will it for ourselves. Ours is to respond to and cooperate with His grace of peace, not to create or grasp for it.


            In fact, the attempt to manufacture this interior peace typically results in its exact opposite. (Serenity now!) We all know those who think they can bring about peace by their own efforts. For them, peace depends on controlling the situation. Such people not only fail to attain peace for themselves; they also disturb it for others. That is one takeaway from today’s first reading: those who insisted on their own way of salvation disturbed the “peace of mind” (Acts 15:24) of Christ’s followers. It is not in controlling Christ that we have peace but in receiving Him.

            My peace I give to you. . . .Ultimately, only Jesus Christ can say this, because only He has peace to give. As both God and man, He is our reconciliation with the Father. As the risen One He has vanquished everything and everyone that threatens that peace. Thus even the peace we extend to others (cf. Mt 9:13) is not our own but what He has entrusted to us. Further, He does not give something apart from or external to Himself. His peace comes from within. Indeed, He is our peace, as Saint Paul bluntly states. (Eph 2:14)

            Not as the world gives do I give it to you. The world gives conditionally, according to its own familiar standards of wealth, power, and pleasure. If we want peace on the world’s terms, then we must have those things. If we set our hearts on what the world gives, then our peace will be as fragile and unstable as the world is. Our Lord gives a peace that doesn’t depend on the things of this world and so can withstand any setbacks, sufferings, and even the worst persecutions.

            The world gives by way of compromise with the truth. In effect, it gives not peace but only a truce. Or, perhaps more accurately, the world threatens conflict if we do not compromise. So we often settle for a false peace (as we do false loves and mercies) at the price of truth. Christ’s peace, however, comes from knowledge of and adherence to the truth. It is the peace that comes from knowing Him and being found in Him. (cf. Phil 3:9-10)

            Finally, since the Great Novena to the Holy Spirit begins this Friday in anticipation of Pentecost, we should note the relation of Christ’s peace and the Holy Spirit. Like any other inheritance, this one becomes effective upon the death of the Giver. Unlike any other, however, this inheritance comes not as the Giver departs from us, but as He comes to us in a more powerful way, through His Spirit.

May that same Spirit increase our intimacy with Christ and bring to fruition His peace within us.

End Quoted

*Image: Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles by Mikhail Vrubel, 1885 [Church of St. Cyril, Kiev, Ukraine]

God’s guide to fishing by Tom Hoopes

God’s guide to fishing

 Tom Hoopes


The whole of Sunday’s readings could be read as God’s six tips for fishers of men.

The ultimate author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit. The Gospels report words spoken by God the Son. With a combination like that, you can find depths of meaning even in the smallest of phrases.

For instance: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” In fact, the whole of Sunday’s readings (Week Three of Ordinary Time, Year B) could be read as God’s six tips for fishers of men.

1: No fishing experience is necessary.

The Gospel shows Jesus choosing Simon, Andrew, James and John – the greatest apostles in history. This is analogous to Alexander the Great picking his commanders or Napoleon forming his inner circle before setting out to conquer the world.

But Jesus doesn’t choose the best and brightest; he doesn’t choose those with the greatest tactical skills or the most far-reaching education. Instead, he chooses simple fisherman, minimally educated.

What these fishermen will achieve will dwarf the accomplishments of Alexander the Great and Napoleon. They will start a revolution of truth that made science possible. They will unleash beauty that reinvents the arts. They will start an ethical system that changes the way human beings are treated worldwide. How?

Because Jesus didn’t say, “Come and fish with me.” He said “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” Ultimately, God did it — not them.

2: They didn’t change the river of history; they fished it.

Jesus didn’t call the apostles to change the world. Their goal was to lure a few souls out of the dark waters and into the light of grace.

This took the apostles a long time to understand. They thought their job was to expel the Roman occupiers, bring the tax collectors to heel, or put the Samaritans in their place. No. Their job was to fish.

It is the same with us. We worry about the crushing weight of society’s burdens — politics, the economy, violence — but we don’t have to. Our job each week is to fish. Bring a soul or two closer to Christ. God does the rest.

3: Fishers have to go where the fish are.

It is a little ironic that the Church chose a reading from Jonah as the first reading. In Jonah, the fish is the fisher of men.

But his story gives an important lesson. Jonah didn’t want to travel to Nineveh to preach repentance. But that was where the people who needed to repent were.

In our time, too, we wish we didn’t have to leave our comfortable circles to bring Christ to others. We wish they would approach us and ask us about the faith. They won’t. We have to go where they are.

4: You have to use the lure the fish likes.

God in his wisdom made some fish who love lures, some who love live bait, and some who just go where the other fish are. The fisherman is only successful if he understands this.

It is the same with men and women. Some need to be lured, some need to be fed and some need to be netted. Only by doing things God’s way does Jonah net Nineveh. It is the same for each of us.

5: The first rule of fishing is “Don’t scare the fish.”

One of the first rules a child learns fishing with dad is that he must not scare the fish. The Second Reading gives Christians just this message.

Paul says “those weeping” should act as if they were not weeping; “those rejoicing as not rejoicing … those using the world as not using it fully.”

We might translate Paul for our times this way: “Those who are shouting about politics should not shout; those obsessing about sports should relax; those who hate what their neighbor is doing should put that aside.”

Others might act like these things are the only important things on earth. Not us. We know better. “The world in its present form is passing away,” says St. Paul.

We don’t want our attachments to pieces of the world to block anyone from seeing the next world. We don’t want to scare the fish.

6: The most important thing, though, is to just go ahead and fish.

Simon and Andrew “abandoned their nets and followed him.” James and John “left their father Zebedee in the boat” and followed.

God calls us, too, in the middle of our lives — in our workplaces and with our family — to put our plans aside and try to catch a few fish.

The future world depends on it. END QUOTES