|Is The Immaculate Conception Real?|
Have non-Catholics told you that the Immaculate Conception isn’t in the Bible? Here’s why they’re wrong.Non-Catholics claim that the Immaculate Conception is not in Scripture, so many Christians unfortunately reject this fundamental teaching.
No Bible verse explicitly states that Mary was conceived without sin. Instead, as St. John Paul II pointed out in his work Redemptoris Mater, the Immaculate Conception is prophesied throughout the Old Testament.
In his book Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines, Tim Staples walks through five of the six revelations and fulfillments in the Gospel of Luke that are derived from the Old Testament and depict the sinless Mother of God.
explains how Mary as the beginning of the new creation is a Scriptural sign that she was conceived without sin. Mary’s “yes” or fiat to God in Luke 1:28 made her the first Christian and the beginning of new creation. Tim Staples explains this concept further:
In the order of grace, Jesus is the inaugurator, the source—indeed, Jesus Christ is the New Covenant. But in the order of time, as the grace of Christ is actually communicated to the world—”the salvific economy of God’s revelation”—Mary was the first human person to experience the redemption of Christ in her person. This grace, the grace of the New Covenant, was incarnate in Mary before the Incarnation—from the moment of her conception—and it was perfected in her through her declaration of faith and obedience.
Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were the beginning of the old creation and were also born without original sin, but when they rejected God, they became enslaved to sin. Since Mary is the beginning of the new creation, it would follow that she was also born without sin and that her yes to God made her the Blessed Mother.
BY BRETT SAMUELS – 03/29/21
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President Biden on Monday urged state and local officials to reconsider lifting their coronavirus restrictions and to reinstate mask mandates that have lapsed as the U.S. faces an increase in cases.
“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate,” Biden said at an event intended to highlight the rapid increase in vaccine eligibility. “Please, this is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down.
Asked later if some states should pause reopening efforts, Biden said “yes.”https://77312fb0b6f7c4bf7625987abcd77ff5.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html#xpc=sf-gdn-exp-4&p=https%3A//thehill.com
Upon taking office, he issued a call for Americans to mask up for the first 100 days of his administration, arguing that doing so would help curb COVID-19 cases while the country ramped up vaccinations.
States have aggressively started lifting mask mandates and easing restrictions on businesses and events in recent weeks as vaccine availability steadily increases, prompting concern from some in the federal government.
Biden previously criticized states like Texas and Mississippi that lifted mask mandates earlier this month, likening it to “Neanderthal thinking.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier Monday warned Americans against letting their guard down against the virus, saying she felt a sense of “impending doom” over rising coronavirus cases.
“I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now I’m scared,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing Monday.
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“We do not have the luxury of inaction,” Walensky added.
The United States has surpassed 30 million cases of COVID-19, and cases continue to rise.
According to Walensky, the seven-day average of new cases is around 60,000 per day, a 10 percent increase over the past week. The numbers are still a far cry from the peak in January, but the rise comes after a sustained period of stagnation.
MARCH 29, 2021
Igrew up in a home with two abusive parents. The past few years of my life have been devoted to intense grief and trauma therapy, working to heal the wounds from my childhood. I knew that a good therapist would be an important part of the process. What I did not realize was what a gift spiritual fatherhood would be to my healing.
The day after finally realizing that my biological father would never be a safe person for me to resume contact with, God gave me a spiritual father. I had been looking for a spiritual director for years, and it was truly a “Holy Spirit moment” when I finally had the courage to ask this particular priest to be mine.
Through the gift of this spiritual father, I have begun to glimpse the priesthood in a new, richer way. Specifically, I have come to see the priesthood and spiritual fatherhood through the lens of St. John.
St. John and the Passion
When in the Garden of Gethsemane, St. Peter responded to the approaching soldiers how most men would, bless their hearts. Many men have a desire to “fix” things, to protect and defend their friends and family. In trying to fend off the soldiers, Peter was trying to keep Jesus safe.
But Peter is not the Apostle at the foot of the cross. Can you imagine him standing there? It would have nearly killed him. Standing at the foot of the cross, being helpless in the face of the suffering Christ…it required a different kind of manhood. It required a manhood like John’s.
John knew, full well, that he could not (and should not) try to rescue Jesus. He had listened to the words of Christ and had begun to grasp that this was part of God’s plan. But even though he could not “fix” the situation, John was still present. He walked beside Mary as she followed her Son to Calvary. He stood firm at the foot of the cross, a shoulder for Mary to cry on and a loyal friend to her Son. As Jesus breathed his last and Mary wept, can you imagine what a consolation John must have been to her? As her heart broke for her Son, this new son received her tears, letting them soak the shoulder of his tunic. A strong, warm presence, he held her in her grief, and created a safe place for her to finally shed the tears that had been building in her since Simeon prophesied to her at the Presentation in the Temple. Three decades of suffering, three decades of anticipating the suffering of her Son—the tears were endless. Of course, she was filled with hope. Of course, she trusted in God’s plan. But that hope and that trust did not blunt the immensity of the pain that she had been carrying so long.
What would that moment have been like for Mary, were it not for John? Who would have stood guard, would have held her, would have made a space for her to weep?
As one of the first priests, John the Apostle revealed an indispensable facet of the priesthood—to be a safe, quiet place for souls to grow and grieve and grasp for God.
John and Spiritual Fathers
Having been raised by an abusive father, I did not understand what fatherhood was. Through this priest faithfully living out his vocation (and sharing it with me, through his ministry) I began to see fatherhood in a way that I never had before. I began to see that fathers are safe people, guarding and protecting their children from harm. I began to see that fathers sacrifice for their children, asking nothing in return. I began to see that fathers are selfless, not wanting children for their own fulfillment but wanting children that they might point them to the goodness of God the Father.
I also began to realize that, unlike my biological father (who was always rushing in to situations with anger or trying to fix things), my spiritual father was more like St. John. Early on in our direction, I was sharing a particularly painful memory with this priest, and he began making a suggestion for how to make sense of the situation. “Stop!” I told him. “I don’t want you to fix this. I just want you to be present with me in the suffering. I want you to be a John, not a Peter!”
That moment was a turning point for me, as I began to see what a gift St. John was and what a gift the priesthood is. The priest is a man who is confronted with the most painful, most troubling, more joyful, weakest, ugliest, and most beautiful sides of humanity. Were he to rush around trying to fix every difficult situation he encountered, he would rapidly burn out. Rather, a good priest responds the way that John did. He is just present. He is present at the side of dying person, in the hospital room as parents sit beside their sick child, present in the living room of a couple trying to save their marriage, present at a graveside as a mother grieves her miscarried baby. A priest cannot and does not fix any of it. He does, however, do what John did—he allows the tears and pain of those suffering to soak into the fabric of his priesthood. He creates a safe place for souls to grieve, and grow, and grasp for their heavenly Father.
That is who my spiritual father has been for me—a St. John. And through this one particular priest, I have noticed this quality of spiritual paternity in all of the priests that I know. Priests are men who are willing to stand at the foot of the cross, for as long as it takes, to ensure that their spiritual children are not alone in their pain.
Let us pray for all priests—to have the courage and inner peace of John, that they may create a safe place for their spiritual children to find the peace of God that they seek.
image: Sculpture of Jesus Crucified with the Virgin Mary and Saint John beside Him, St Martin’s Cathedral (Bratislava) by Adam Jan Figel / Shutterstock.com
MARCH 29, 2021
Eight years ago I published a book called American Church. The subtitle explained what it was about: “The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America.”
Now the future is here. That sound you heard was the future of the Church in America landing with a masked-up thud. At least for the short run, it is anything but bright.
Before COVID-19 made its devastating presence felt, 21.1% of American Catholics attended Mass every week, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. That was nothing to brag about, compared with 54.9% in 1970, but it looks positively hearty next to the 12% or so projected for the post-COVID era.
Using data from dioceses, Villanova University’s Center for Church Management, the source of that projection, had previously seen Mass attendance dropping to that level in 2030. But the pandemic speeded things up. “It’s not going to be 2030. It could be 2022 (or) 2023,” center director Matthew F. Manion told Catholic News Service.
What’s happening is no mystery. As churches closed and bishops suspended the Sunday Mass obligation during the pandemic—measures initially required by state and local officials responding to a genuine public health crisis—people in the habit of attending Mass weekly acquired the new habit of staying home instead.
If they wanted to see a Mass, there was always one no farther away than the TV set or the computer screen. And even when Mass in church became possible again, many were perfectly content with the new option of non-attendance that the pandemic had opened up for them. To be sure, over time some may eventually decide to resume coming to church, at least now and then. But it’s a safe bet many won’t.
This has lots of unpleasant consequences. Here are a few
The sharp decline in financial support for the Church that has already occurred will continue. That will mean cutting back or eliminating many programs and services previously offered in areas like education and charities.
The consolidating or closing parishes already taking place in a number of dioceses will continue and accelerate. In many parishes that survive, the sense of community will be further weakened.
Worst of all, what is happening can’t help but diminish if not totally end sacramental participation by many Catholics, with all the negatives that implies for their spiritual health.
To be sure, there are bright spots in this gloomy picture–particular dioceses, parishes, and individual Catholics emerging from these trying months stronger in the faith than before. I think especially of those good people who felt a real sense of loss at being cut off from attending Mass and now rejoice in its return.
What next? Obviously bishops and priests have their work cut out for them to restore or replace as much as possible of what has been lost. But the nature of this crisis is such that it would be an especially counterproductive form of clericalism to look only to the clergy for remedies.
On the contrary, if there are to be remedies, the Catholic laity will have to find them, individually and in small faith communities, and then proclaim the renewal of their faith by the distinctively Catholic way they live their lives.
Holy Week and Easter contain many lessons. Their most important lesson for American Catholics now is that dying comes before rising. The old, pre-pandemic American Church is breathing its last. We have yet to see whether a newly risen post-COVID Catholicism will take its place.
image: St. Hedwig Catholic Church (Chicago) by Carlos Yudica / Shutterstock.com
By Russell Shaw
Russell Shaw is a freelance writer from Washington, DC. He is the author of more than twenty books and previously served as secretary for public affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference.
SHELBY TALCOTTMEDIA REPORTERMarch 29, 20211:01 PM ETFONT SIZE:
Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan is demanding answers from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas regarding how the Biden administration is enforcing federal law in Portland, Oregon, according to two letters obtained by the Daily Caller.https://a0c398ce3cb42950a8479156ab4c178c.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The letters, sent Monday, note that “anarchists and violent left-wing extremists continue to vandalize and destroy federal property in Portland.” The city experienced over one hundred days of consecutive unrest following the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was recently forced to re-install fencing around the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse just days after it was removed due to attacks on the building.
Jordan cited journalist Andy Ngo’s February 2021 testimony in front of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security in both letters. He noted that Ngo testified about “antifa and left-wing anarchists” developing “a riot apparatus that included streams of funding for accommodation, travel, riot gear, and weapons, which resulted in a murder, hundreds of arson attacks, mass injuries, and mass property destruction.” (RELATED: ‘That’s A Myth’: Democrats Downplay The Violence In Portland)
In the letter to Mayorkas, the Ohio lawmaker requested an explanation on what the DHS or the Federal Protective Service (FPS) is doing “to protect federal personnel and federal property” in the city. The letter also asked for explanation on what is being done to prevent further destruction to federal property as well as whether the DHS “still believes that it has the authority, the mission, and the intent to enforce federal law and protect federal property in Portland.”
The first of several reflections on St. Joseph by Father Raymond de Souza for your Holy Week contemplations.
In his apostolic letter for the beginning of the Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis cites Polish author Jan Dobraczyński. The Holy Father explains that his novel, The Shadow of the Father, “uses the evocative image of a shadow to define Joseph. In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way.” (Patris Corde7)
Nevertheless, Joseph is not present in the Lord’s public life. Yet we might find St. Joseph during Holy Week, if we allow ourselves to imagine where his “shadow” may have fell upon Jesus in those most sacred days.
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil (John 12:1-3).
The Gospel for Monday of Holy Week gives us a domestic scene, Jesus at home, as it were, with his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It seems that when Jesus came to Jerusalem on pilgrimage that he would at least visit, if not stay with, his friends at Bethany, just two miles from the holy city.
Mary anoints Jesus with costly nard, and the entire house is filled with the fragrance. Judas objects; Jesus explains that it is in anticipation of His death, now just days away.
Commenting on the fragrance that filled the house, St. Augustine wrote, “The world is filled with the fame of a good character: for a good character is like a sweet scent. … Through the good, the name of the Lord is honored” (In Io. Evang. tr. 50, 7).
The primary “good character” at Bethany was the Lord Jesus Himself. It was also the home of a holy family, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Their holiness filled the house with a sweet scent, too.
Jesus was at home at Bethany. Surely it reminded Him of the home in Nazareth, where the Holy Family dwelt together in the sweet scent of holiness. It was St. Joseph who provided that holy home for Jesus there, as had beforehand in Egypt and Bethlehem.
It was Joseph who provided for Jesus and Mary the experience of what would be later be called a “domestic church” – a family in which God is happy to “pitch his tent” (John 1:14). In these last days before His passion, Jesus enjoys at Bethany what He lived for so many years in Nazareth. Perhaps He feels in particular the absence of Joseph, whose own fragrance Jesus learned as an infant, a fragrance He would acquire as He grew in wisdom and stature (cf. Luke 2:52).
The perfumed nard that Mary lavishes upon Jesus is another shadow of Joseph. One of the saint’s symbols is the spikenard, sometime depicted as flowering upon his staff. Pope Francis has a spikenard on his papal coat-of-arms to represent St. Joseph.
Did the anointing with nard remind Jesus of the stories that St. Joseph told Jesus about His birth, and the visit of the Magi? How strange that they would give a little baby – a newborn king no less! – myrrh (Matthew 2:11), which is used to prepare bodies for death. On the cross, myrrh would be mixed with wine and offered to Jesus (cf. Mark 15:23), and Nicodemus would bring a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes for the burial (John 19:39).l
The fragrance that fills the house is the joy of gospel fellowship – and a foretaste of death. Jesus experiences both together now in Bethany; Joseph first experienced them together in Bethlehem.
Father Raymond J. de Souza Father Raymond J. de Souza is the founding editor of Convivium magazine.
The cardinal recalled how many saints, visiting the basilica over the centuries, have “perpetuated this beautiful tradition” and that now it is no longer possible for priests to individually celebrate Masses on altars over the tombs of saints, leaving the altars as “mere works of art.”
Cardinal Robert Sarah has become the latest cardinal to publicly oppose recent norms suppressing individual Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica, explaining in a seven-point appeal to Pope Francis why he believes they are a mistake and calling on the Holy Father to withdraw them.
Published Monday on the blog of Italian journalist Sandro Magister, the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments cited in his appeal previous papal documents underlining the importance of Masses celebrated individually while also criticizing what he sees as the un-catholic nature of the norms and its various breaches of Church law and tradition.
“I humbly beg the Holy Father to order the withdrawal of the recent norms issued by the secretariat of state,” the cardinal wrote. They are, he added, “lacking in justice as in love, do not correspond to the truth or the law, do not facilitate but rather endanger the decorum of the celebration, devout participation in the Mass, and the freedom of the children of God.”
Since March 22, individual celebrations have been “suppressed” at the side altars of St. Peter’s, changing centuries of tradition for the basilica.
The new norms were announced through a letter from the Secretariat of State to the administrators of the basilica and pinned to the door of the basilica sacristy on March 12. The letter stated that the measures were to ensure “an atmosphere of recollection and liturgical decorum” in the basilica but no further reasons was given. The Register has asked the Vatican for clarification on the directive but has thus far received no response.
Cardinal Sarah began his appeal by saying he wanted to “spontaneously add” his voice to those of Cardinals Raymond Burke, Gerhard Müller, and Walter Brandmüller who have all criticized the directive. Concerned that it could be a trial balloon for possible future decisions affecting the Church, Cardinal Sarah said it is “even more necessary” that he and others make their opposition known.
Quoting various conciliar and papal documents, he noted that communal celebration of the Mass is preferred, but “individual celebration by a priest remains the work of Christ and the Church.” Cardinal Sarah also referred to two schools of theological thought: one that says it makes no difference to the gift of grace whether Masses are concelebrated, and the other, referring to St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope Pius XII, which believes that “grace is reduced” in the concelebration of a single Mass.
This latter point, he wrote, “should not be ignored,” and he added that reducing the number of Masses celebrated would result in “at least the possibility” of a “decrease in the gift of grace given to the Church and to the world” and, if so, “the spiritual damage would be incalculable.”
Cardinal Sarah went on to criticize the “peremptory tone” of the Secretariat of State directive and particularly its use of the word “suppressed” which, he said, “one perceives” as a “sort of unusual violence.” He also questioned the imposition of concelebration, asking if that represented “the welcoming spirit of the Church” and was reflective of the symbolism of Bernini’s colonnade that represents the open arms of Mother Church.
“Why does it no longer want to welcome [priests on a pilgrimage] unless they accept the imposition of concelebration?” he asked, and pointed out that, according to Paul VI’s liturgical reforms, concelebration should be of presbyters and their bishop, not only presbyters.
Cardinal Sarah further questioned the prudence of such a decision during the COVID-19 crisis and wondered what priests, who don’t know Italian, should do now given that the directive is restricting Masses in the upper basilica to concelebrations in the language.
He also agreed with the three other cardinals opposed to the norms that the directive breaches canon law, particularly the right of the priest to celebrate the Eucharist individually.
“St. Peter’s Basilica should be an example for the liturgy of the whole Church,” Cardinal Sarah wrote, “but these new rules impose criteria that would not be tolerated in any other place, in that they violate common sense as much as they do the laws of the Church.”
But this is not only about laws or “mere formalism,” Cardinal Sarah continued, adding that what is at stake is the “good of the Church” and respect for a priest’s wish not to concelebrate.
The cardinal also highlighted problems with confining the Extraordinary Form of the Rome rite to a small chapel in the grotto underneath the basilica, saying that among other problems with the move, it limits expansion of the form and that by limiting it to “authorized priests,” it fails to respect Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
Calling individual Masses celebrated in the basilica an “ancient and venerable custom,” he asked if it was “really necessary to break it” and whether it would produce a “greater decorum” in the liturgy. The cardinal recalled how many saints, visiting the basilica over the centuries, have “perpetuated this beautiful tradition” and that now it is no longer possible for priests to individually celebrate Masses on altars over the tombs of saints, leaving the altars as “mere works of art.”
Cardinal Sarah also made a point that the directive runs counter to Pope Francis’ frequent appeals against injustice in today’s world, and he wondered what priests of other rites are now meant to do as they cannot concelebrate. “St. Peter’s Basilica represents the center of catholicity, so it comes naturally to think that such a celebration would be allowed,” he wrote.
He ended by calling on the Pope, along with a “boundless number of baptized persons (many of whom do not want to or cannot express their thoughts),” to withdraw the norms “for all these reasons set out here and for yet others.”
Edward Pentin Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Edward is the author of The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates (Sophia Institute Press, 2020) and The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family (Ignatius Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter at @edwardpentin.
Cruz led delegation of Republican senators to Donna, Texas, to tour migrant holding facilities
Sen.Ted Cruz, R-Texas, joins ‘Sunday Morning Futures’ to discuss his visit to the border as the migrant surge continues.
Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn, both Texas Republicans, led a delegation of senators to Donna, Texas, where migrants have been packed into facilities designed for a much smaller number of people. The senators were touring a migrant holding facility in the city.