2012년 5월 2일 수요일

Our Lady and Suffering

De Maria, numquam satis.

I was hesitant about the theme today because I have not yet quite lived a life laden with suffering. I have lost both of my paternal grand parents in my adolescence which did give me moments of acute grief but it is not like what some of my friends have been through. Not many serious illnesses that I can remember.

But suffering is probably one of the most useful service a soul could do for God. Whilst it is difficult for me to imagine what it is like, it seems a soul that tasted bitterness (that she accepts for God) in life is drawn that much closer to God in that she physically experience a portion of His suffering. On that note, I have a wonderful video I would like you to watch at this point.

DiligoDeus puts up some good meditation videos. She seems sound although I had to point it out the other day when she used an image of Our Lady of "Medjugorje". She did not quote the apparition though so I still have the privilege of endorsing her. She also has a video called "Are only a few saved?" which is a video full of hell fire and brimstone and "Receiving Communion with Mary's Heart" which I thought was the best of its kind I have seen. They can never replace well taught Catechism but every now and then they can serve good purposes, too.

It would seem as though suffering itself is a kind of calling from God. A vocation, if you will. Our Lady's life seems to reflect this quite well. When it was nearly time for the Eternal Word of God to come to us, Our Lady was immaculately conceived. Then came the Annunciation to which She said "Fiat". Then came the moment of Passion in which She participated in the most perfect manner ever possible to any mortal man. Her Assumption and Coronation were all punctually in God's timetable, too. Our Lady might have had some human yearning after Our Lord's Ascension but I have absolutely no doubt Her joy and conviction of being reunited with Him would have far surpassed any such passing emotions. Perhaps that is just one of many reasons we look upon Her so much; as God's plan was in full work in Her, with no obstacle to be found. Perhaps that is partially what Sanctity is; letting God do what He wants to do. The greater the trust and submission, the greater the Sanctity. I am not sure if that is true but She certainly had the greatest trust and submission to God's will and She certainly is the greatest of all saints.

Now, this is a good place to introduce the Seven Dolors of Our Lady. It is a devotional prayer like the Rosary. It is the collection of seven sufferings of Our Lady; Prophecy of Simeon, Flight to Egypt, Losing Jesus in the temple when He was a child, Meeting Him on His way up to Calvary, His Crucifixion and Death, Taking Him down from the Cross after His Death and His burial. You meditate upon each of them to share in the suffering of Our Lady. It has a chaplet a bit like the Rosary but with only seven beads. That would make a great Lenten gift for our mothers, I should imagine. In fact, if I am not in the military yet, I should make her one next Lent. She rather liked the Rosary I made her for her anniversary gift so she will like this one, too.
Notice the seven small beads for seven recitations of Ave Maria.
Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required. (LK 12:48)
Can we apply this to God, too? If we give Him much, can we require much from Him, too?
That parallel falls flat on its face. Gift of Baptism has already taken away all hopes of matching His giving. In fact the very fact that one is breathing at all is a gift one cannot hope to match. But I do wonder if a soul suffers more for God, if a soul proves her love for God more joyfully, more consolation and more Grace could be poured upon her. This much I believe to be true; every broken, twisted limb in this world; every cry of agony and anguish in this world earns a soul back home. God hates it more than we do, but we need it more than God does. He does not inflict it upon us because He needs to; He needs nothing! Rather, it seems the only way to even entertain the idea of saving some certain souls in this world is to have strong and pure souls suffer as a holy reparation. We need to pray more for these souls being tried in this fire of holy suffering, those who make reparation and restitution for all the blasphemies and offences. A bit like her (a Catholic convert introduced in the Catholic Herald before).


And Him. (Watch from 38:00 to 44:32)

Evangelisation is probably the most important commandment we were given by Christ.
Loving one another is indeed The New Commandment but you need to teach them how to love. Missionaries have that immense joy and responsibility of teaching them how to love, of carrying out His last commandment on earth; Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mk 16:15) However, if evangelisation is winning bread for the family, suffering for Christ I guess could be like good housekeeping. Thanking and embracing come what may, letting Divine Providence be fulfilled, letting God do what Divine Economy (housekeeping in Greek) requires. Sinners will put the household in deficit and holy suffering souls will pay back the deficit. By the way, who is the Heavenly Treasurer, the housekeeper in Heaven?
Our Lady of perpetual help
Parting gift for today... You see, I would have used Canticle of Love for today but I have already used it on "Our Lady, films and deer" so I have to use something else.
I will attach that video I mentioned earlier; "Receiving Communion with Mary's Heart." By the way, its background music is Canticle of Love!

2012년 4월 30일 월요일

Our Lady and Her apparitions

De Maria numquam satis.

Have you been to any Marian pilgrimage before?
I had the privilege to visit a few Marian apparition sites such as Fatima, Lourdes, Rue de Bac, Walsingham and La Salette. Lourdes I have visited twice; once as a member to the Westminster Red Cap group and the other as a personal pilgrimage when Holy Father visited Lourdes for its 150th anniversary. Lourdes is lovely; in spite of the underground car park "basilica", the "Cathedral of trees" and the tragically ugly vestments. Oh and priests in shorts. I could never see what was wrong with cassocks and habits. Fatima... when I went there, it was an awful day and I walked around in torrential rain. I should really go there again... Need to see what it was all about. Pilgrimage to Walsingham was good too; except to find the Anglican chapel more beautiful than ours. La Salette was on this beautiful mountain. Cloud underneath your feet, the slope covered in snow and a beautiful statue of Our Lady. Quite difficult to get there though; you have to take a train from Lyon to Grenoble. take a bus from Grenoble for a couple of hours to get to the village and climb up or take a taxi up the mountain. Quite a trip indeed! But not much to do. Rue de Bac... Not much to do there either! So the winner for me is Lourdes. At least so far.

Now there are apparitions that were disproved and condemned by the Church.
Bayside apparition is a prime example and the one in Korea called Naju is another.
People still attached to these apparitions must come back to the Magisterium. The on-going apparition in Medjugorje is meant to have been condemned by the local bishop and it is not even finished yet so it is advisable NOT to go there. The historical example about authentic Marian apparitions though is that the visionaries were faithful and obedient to the Church but the pilgrims were not so faithful and obedient. Even for Lourdes and Fatima, the Church, in Her prudence, advised Catholics to refrain from paying too much attention to these apparitions and vising these sites until the investigations were complete. Many people still went there nonetheless but bluntly put, they were just lucky not to have gone to the wrong ones. Do not trust your own judgments; trust what the Church tells you to do. Even if Medjugorje feels "right", if the Church urges you not to go there, do not go there. The Church has one and only reason for existence; to save souls. If the Church thinks it is good for the salvation of souls, She will allow it eventually. Be patient, be obedient.

The one striking feature shared by all authorised apparitions of Our Lady is that there is absolutely nothing new. Granted, some apparitions contain more warnings than others, some contain specific prophecies that are contingent to the epoch but Fatima is Akita, essentially. After the era of Apostles, the era of Public Revelation came to an end. The Private Revelations that came afterwards are not required to believe. We do of course recognise Lourdes and Fatima as authentic apparitions of Our Lady but the content of these apparitions are not faith-binding. In fact, it seems very counter-productive how some certain groups of Catholics focus on these messages at the cost of forming oneself of integral Mariology. Surely that is not what Our Lady would have wished to see?

Marian teachings are of celestial beauty; hardly surprising as She is the Queen of Heaven. Without marveling at the fact that Our Lady referred to Herself as the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes, the teaching is already so beautiful and rich in Christology (as all Marian teachings ultimately are) it almost does not seem to matter that it was revealed in Lourdes. We have also been taught for centuries that the Rosary was a powerful weapon against the devil. St Louis de Montfort even wrote a book called "The Secret of the Rosary" and that predates Our Lady of Fatima by quite a few centuries.
De Maria, numquam satis. It originally means "Of Our Lady, there is never enough." or "We can never pay Our Lady enough respect or express enough gratitude for Her inextinguishable love for Her children." Well, something like that anyway. But I suppose it can also be interpreted like this; No apparitions can do Her justice for Her resplendent beauty and love for us. St Bernadette, the visionary at Lourdes, when she saw the first statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was known to have been disappointed. They may have reflected all the features St Bernadette described but still, the statue was nothing compared to what St Bernadette had the extraordinary privilege to see. Equally, what they saw in Fatima is nothing compared to what Our Lady has in store for us in Heaven. Whatever you saw or imagined of Our Lady, you can safely expect to see vastly more when you get to see Her face-to-face. She is bigger than Her apparitions; do not limit Her within the confines of Her apparitions.

Marian apparitions, the authentic ones, are indeed special grace Our Lady earns for us. It brings us great consolation and affords us these timely warnings that we all desperately need. Countries blessed with these must always give thanks to Our Blessed Lord who arranged for Her apparitions to be witnessed in their own home countries. But when you investigate into the messages of these apparitions, please bear in mind that it is Our Lady's wish for you to grow in love for Her in an integral, holistic (a dangerous word these days) and lasting manner, not going after "sensational" messages. And if you happen to be a strong advocate for these controversial apparitions mentioned above, remember you will, one day, be held accountable for your erroneous and reckless ways in the presence of Our Lady. Imagine the shame, imagine the horror!

Parting gift for today is Salve Regina in solemn tone.

2012년 4월 20일 금요일

Our Lady, films and deer

De Maria, numquam satis.

Everywhere in England they had drought orders as they had not had much rain at all this Spring and suddenly we have weather as capricious as a goat (as capricious means just that) pouring down every five minutes. A perfect weather to have a warm cup of tea by you and get some Spiritual Reading.

I have not had much Spiritual Reading myself but I have watched quite a few films of the lives of the Blessed and the Saints. Do you not like these old-school films with CG effects that you would not raise an eyebrow to but with a good, faithful and hearty acting? The one on Our Lady of Fatima was done very well in terms of acting and the prudence that they had, not to draw disproportionate amount of attention to the Secrets of Fatima, was laudable. The one of St Therese de Lisieux (filmed in French in the 80s I think) was also interesting. It was filmed almost like a play, thought-provoking, in short, fleeting, twinkling scenes. It had some very dry sense of humour which we can always appreciate as well. The one on St Pio of Pietrelcina seemed to vilify the Ecclesiastical Authorities a bit too much (which was the case with most of these films in fact) and depicted him just a little bit too much of an impetuous and often quite an impatient old man when patience was the keyword to describe the Saint. But the thing about these films is you must not expect to see any remotely accurate description of a Saint's life; frankly the one I have watched about St Philip Neri was... to say the least, confusing. There was this melange of St John Bosco, Les Choristes (a brilliant French film about delinquent children) and a bit too... humanist? Whilst my background reading of St Philip Neri is at best patchy, I was still quite crossed about the fact that they missed out the happenings with his students and most importantly, the miracle of Paolo Massimo. But they did manage to depict him in that wonderful, heartening cheerfulness and "gioia".

What do you normally wish to export out of writings of Saints; about their lives, their deeds, devotions, exercises etc? In my case, since my name means Divine Providence (Jimin), it is their zeal for the perfection of their vocation, their submission to the Divine Will and how those acts of Faith bring forth Divine Providence. The most important question to ask after watching these films seems to be this; "What would YOU have me do?" And it seems all the saints have asked this same question through our Church History as though no other questions mattered, in fact in their lives that was the only question they cared about. Our Lady also, would have asked this question; although out of Her Humility (as we affectionately believe) She chose not to be discussed too much in the Bible. As a deer panting for running waters, their souls eagerly sought after their God, until that promised time in their Eternity to see God's radiant Face. (Psalm 41)
In that wonderful (albeit modern some of you may find) hymn I found called Canticle of Love from the film Therese, the lyrics runs "Until in eternity, we join in one chorus... Canticle of Love, song of Love, this eternal day, I will sing of your Love." In the Communion of Saints we enjoy, we do indeed join in one Chorus; everyday given as free gift from eternal God, we live everyday as eternity. Our vocations will call us through many ways as we have seen for two thousand years. Some may have apparition of Our Lord to evangelise, some may have vocations to look after the sick. But all those different walks of life will lead to one very very narrow road in the end; the road to Our Home. Our Lady being the brightest star that guides us to that road, that is why She is the Mother of the Church. Because by Her very Motherhood She will not abandon us in the dark; by the very Charity that moves the Sun and the stars (Divine Comedy, In Empyrean), the brightest Star will always be upon us. As Her beloved deer, we will have Our running waters in the end.

The parting gift for today is that hymn I mentioned above. Hope you like it!

2012년 4월 10일 화요일

Our Lady and Light

De Maria, numquam satis.

So ended Lent, so came the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord.
Easter comes every year but somehow every Easter feels so different to one another, does it not? I guess that is only natural though; we always fight different demons for different Lents. In some Lent we may be fighting sluggishness; in others we may be fighting gossiping and swearing. And with part victories and part defeats, we witness the consummation of God's promise; freedom from Sin and Death. Even if we always fall short, even if we fail as God's Temple, victory comes every year, because we have such a wonderful King, so wonderful we even call Adam's fault blessed. (O felix culpa!)

Now, what about the very first Temple of God, Our Lady?
Personally, I often call Her the first Monstrance.
When we go to Adoration, as Monsignor Knox had put it, we gaze upon "the Window in the wall". He described the Blessed Sacrament in Monstrance as "the Window in the wall", the wall of deceiving bodily senses, the world of appearances. And if I may paraphrase, the Window is that small hole in that wall through which the faithful can gaze upon the World of Forms (if you like Plato) or the World of Truth. The wall darkens the world around us but that Window affords us a single beam of light. Now imagine a living Monstrance, full of Grace, without any blemish or scratches at all, that was crafted by God Himself. Would it not invite us infinitely more to look upon the Eucharistic Lord more fervently?
(After all, St John the Baptist did leap in joy!)
Before I heard of Monsignor Knox's description though (which I think is absolutely beautiful), I have thought of the Blessed Sacrament in Monstrance, in a way, as a Heavenly mirror. You see, the great thing about Truth is that it vanquishes all Falsehood. Just as Satan flees in the Holy Name of Jesus, Falsehood immediately melts away in the presence of Truth. In a way, that is one of the things we hope to do when we go to Adoration. As the Blessed Lord opens up His Heart and shows Himself in a Monstrance, we also, in our prayers, open up our hearts in return and show Him our true selves and pray to Him as though we are speaking face to face. And although Our Blessed Lord is a few yards away from us when we adore Him, nevertheless we ask Him to show us the true reflection of ourselves to become better sons and daughters of Christ, through that Heavenly mirror.

(St Stanislaus's, Chicago. Red is known to have been chosen for Kingship. I would have preferred good old Our Lady's blue myself though.)
So whenever we go to Adoration, whilst all praises and thanksgiving should first and foremost go to Our Lord, we should also remember that the Monstrance that contains the Blessed Sacrament is only a poor replica to Our Lady. The only true Monstrance, the only fitting Monstrance was made by God Himself, with human flesh and blood but without Original Sin. I have seen Monstrances of celestial beauty, so faithfully looked after that it shines from a few hundreds of yards. But still, that is not enough. You may adorn that Monstrance with the most precious jewels in this world, polish it seven million times and it will never be fitting for Our Blessed Lord and it will never be able to look half as beautiful as Our Lady.
Today's parting gift is Regina Caeli. That is the Marian hymn for Eastertide (instead of Ave Regina Caelorum for Lent), and it also substitutes Angelus. And after we sing Regina Caeli, the Priest may chant "Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia" which means "Rejoice and be glad, Virgin Mary, alleluia." to which we all chant in response "Quia surrexit Dominus vere, Alleluia!" which means "For the Lord has truly risen, Alleluia!" It is short so it will not take more than an hour to learn if you have not already.

2012년 3월 26일 월요일

Our Lady and Annunciation

De Maria, numquam satis.

I am very sorry this post was rather late.
It is still the Feast of Annunciation across the Atlantic so Happy Feast, brothers in Faith!
It was a First Class Feast so we could all enjoy some dispensations from our Lenten observances. Another was St Joseph's day.

I am going to put up a painting that might raise some of your eyebrows...
Kim Ki Chang, South Korean Catholic Artist, Annunciation
I have already used Fra Angelico's painting of the Annunciation which is without a reasonable doubt the best depiction of Our Lady's Annunciation, with all its rich endowment of Biblical symbolism and the sublime countenance of Our Lady; in awe and wonder, not in fear. But Our Lady is quite beautifully drawn in this picture as well.
Now that I have said "nice" things about this picture, let me say not so "nice" things about this picture also.
In Korean custom, only married ladies wore navy skirts; Our Lady was only engaged, not yet quite married, upon the point of Annunciation. There can be a couple of possible justifications for this. First one is that it was the artist's adaptation of Her status. Confucianism demanded almost schizophrenic separation between men and women so until marriage, they could not even sit in a same room. Women of noble or royal births could not speak to men without blinds stopping them from exchanging glances. So the artist might have adapted it to mean that Our Lady and St Joseph could be considered married in Korean terms. Their relationship was indeed, in modern terms, closer than betrothal but not quite Marriage yet. Or maybe, the following. Before Our Lady says "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.", Angel Gabriel does indeed say "Ave, gratia plena." Therefore, even before she conceived Our Blessed Lord, Our Lady was already "full of Grace". Specifically, Sanctifying Grace.

Since the end and aim of all efficacious grace is directed to the production of sanctifying grace where it does not already exist, or to retain and increase it where it is already present, its excellence, dignity, and importance become immediately apparent; for holiness and the sonship of God depend solely upon the possession of sanctifying grace, wherefore it is frequently called simply grace without any qualifying word to accompany it as, for instance, in the phrases "to live in grace" or "to fall from grace".


Her Soul enjoyed a specific, Divinely ordained Sanctifying Grace from Her Immaculate Conception. The very fact that She was Immaculately conceived, needless to stress, is a Divinely ordained Grace on Her. Her Soul was ordained to be the bride of Holy Ghost from Her very conception. Our Lady did get to say "Fiat mihi, secundum verbum tuum." (Luke 1:38) but I believe God knew from the beginning that She will confess Her all-consuming Love and Desire to be His Bride. It is also the case that She is ever-Virgin as She is the Singular Vessel of the Holy Ghost, eternally married to Her God. Bluntly put, Our Blessed Lord has made one ever-sufficient Sacrifice on Calvary and no one else but Our Blessed Lady was chosen, once and for all eternity. She is the ONLY Mother of God. There are ancient writings such as Protoevangelium of James that supports this idea of Our Lady's Eternal Virginity known to have been written in sub-apostolic era but the case is already more than clear to show that Our Lady's Vocation (as Divine Will), as it were, was to be married to Holy Ghost and St Joseph's was to remain Her guardian throughout his life.
It is extremely insulting to see certain misled christian leaders saying Our Lady was not perpetually virgin and broke the vow of Her Eternal Matrimony. The insult is so damning it eclipses and almost does not give St Joseph a chance to be insulted about it, for it is first and foremost an insult to Holy Ghost. They will be held accountable for such insults before the judgment seat. And they can jolly well expect to see Our Heavenly Queen seated on Our Lord's side.

Speaking of Divine Will, my name in Korean means some thing like that (Jimin/지민/).
I have always liked my name very much and I have always been grateful to my parents for it. But having written most of today's post on Our Lady's Annunciation, I feel unworthy of such a name. Her humble "Fiat" was Her answer to Divine Providence, Divine Providence none else but that of mankind's Salvation. She experienced Divine Providence not as a speculation (e.g. It must have been providential!) but physically; as She said these words, God the Holy Ghost entered Her, the Second Ark of the Covenant, protected from all stains and impurities and dwelt in Her. Nobody else experienced Divine Providence in any remotely similar way as She did. What a truly wonderful Mother we have, indeed!

I have composed a collection of short verses in Korean and English below in Her Honour. She takes up all our sincere prayers to Our Lord's Throne of Mercy however unworthy they may be. I hope She finds them pleasing to Her ears!

어머니 당신님을 목놓아 체읍하며 한없이 그립니다
별보다 반짝이는 당신의 눈동자에 진리를 품으시고
오뉴월 꽃밭보다 포근한 무릎맡에 진리를 눕히시고
십이월 눈밭보다 더하얀 가슴안에 진리를 묻으셨던
어머니 당신님을 목놓아 체읍하며 한없이 그립니다
Mother my soul weeps in longing for thee.
Who conceived Truth in your eyes brighter than stars,
Who laid Truth on your knees fairer than May flowers,
Who buried Truth in your Heart whiter than December snows,
Mother my soul weeps in longing for thee.

I think it works better in Korean. I still pray in Korean when I do mental prayers, even after eight years of study in England!
Verse 3 refers to the moments where Our Blessed Lord would have lied on His Mother's knees, listening to Her sweet lullabies as a child.
Verse 4 refers to Her Immaculate Heart and Our Lord's death.
We say in Korean that when a son passes away before his mother, his mother buries him in her heart as the grief is so great and never forgettable that it is ineffaceably engraved in her heart. The last picture is so painful to see it is almost savage; but such was the Passion of Our Lord (and the brutality of men still has not been tamed yet) and such was Her pain of burying Her Son in Her Heart and in a tomb. Interestingly enough, the tomb was a new one, too; never been used. Could there be some significance to that?

A parting gift for today is Diffusa est gratia, graduale for the feast in 1962 Missal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAry6M8YOzw

2012년 3월 20일 화요일

Our Lady and Thomism

De Maria, numquam satis.
Thomism is an enormous school of thought in the Church. St Thomas Aquinas is best known for his work Summa Theologica, a Theological-Philosophical treatise on more or less anything imaginable! You get the famous five ways of proving God's existence, you get his system of hierarchy of Laws (Eternal, Divine, Natural and Human) the list goes on. Summa Theologica was considered as the official philosophical text by the Church until the Second Vatican Council in the sixties but it still remains as a core text for many seminaries. He is famously quoted for saying "everything I have written seems like straw compared to what I have seen." after a conversation he was known to have with Christ.
When he was to be canonised, the Devil's advocate team argued that there were no reported miracles. But a cardinal replied "there were as many miracles as the articles in Summa Theologica; thousands." He was pronounced a Saint by the See of Avignon at that time.
Beatific Vision from Dante's Divine Comedy, Gustave Dore
Interestingly, a medieval view depicted so exquisitely in the Divine Comedy by Dante, was that there is such thing as a limit to Theology. When Dante ascends to the highest sphere of Heaven (Empyrean), Beatrice, his guide and a lover from childhood (who embodies human reason) could not take him to Empyrean as "Theology has reached its limit." so in her stead, St Bernard of Clairvaux, a spiritual giant in contemplative life, leads him to Empyrean where he prays to Our Lady for Dante. Then he sees God face-to-face (which is what we may call a Beatific Vision) and experiences the Love in its true form, the very Love that "turns the Sun and all the other stars." Beatific Vision, indeed, is something that cannot be obtained through human reason alone. However excellent in virtue and strength it may be, human reason is never enough for the enjoyment eternal of God, St Thomas Aquinas's supreme ultimate goal for human existence.

The question we must ask ourselves here though, since this blog is dedicated to Our Lady, is that whether Our Lady would have had such Theology and Revelation. One thing is for sure; Our Blessed Lord would have had Beatific Vision as He was living amongst us two thousand years ago. The Eternal word of God that took flesh would have seen everything in its truest form in an intuitive manner. This started to sound almost platonic but you see what I mean!
But what about Our Lady? One teaching we can employ is that human beings can only be given Beatific Vision at the consummation of their earthly lives. And I suppose it makes sense. Our soulful selves are limited by our bodily existence and Beatific Vision is an intuitive faculty to see God face-to-face, the Infinite. I suspect it could even be called the final Marriage of souls to their Eternal Bridegroom in that no more will this soul be separated from God and will be irrevocably betrothed to the Bridegroom. For such thing as Marriage, we have a great Theologian to quote, Dietrich Von Hildebrand.

"But two human beings can also turn to face one another, and in touching one another, in an interpenetrating glance, give birth to a mysterious fusion of their souls. They become conscious of one another, and making the other the object of his contemplation and responses, each can spiritually immerse himself in the other. This is the I-thou relationship, in which the partners are not side by side, but face to face. "

Botticini, Assumption of the Virgin, National Gallery
Hm... I still do not know if Our Lady would have had Beatific Vision. She would have had the Original Integrity in that Her Reason would have perfectly controlled Her bodily self, Her enjoyment of pleasures only limited to what we define as legitimate. She is the human being closest to God. I am guessing also from Divine Comedy (since it is known to reflect Medieval Theology quite faithfully) that Our Lady would not just have had human reason to speculate upon God but also something of a revelation or intuition to aid Her by the fact that She was in Empyrean with God in Divine Comedy. Lastly, I have always held the view that Our Lady would not have suffered bodily death before being taken up to Heaven as death is a handmade of sin and She had none! One person who did not die before being taken up to Heaven was Elijah and he was a prophet so God's revelation was something of his specialty. But that still does not mean he would have had Beatific Vision! If there is anybody who knows the answer to this subject, please let me know!

Parting gift for today is Stabat Mater by Vivaldi, sung by a Canadian called Mary-Nicole Lemieux. Stabat Mater is a short hymn we sing during Via Crucis. I think her rendition of this piece is the best amongst the ones I have listened to. And since we have passed Laetare Sunday, I thought it would have been useful to remind you that it is extremely important that we go to Via Crucis every friday of Lent and if you have not yet taken part in it this Lent, may I urge you to go and receive Plenary Indulgence ! (with usual conditions)

2012년 3월 8일 목요일

Our Lady and Her sinful children

De Maria, numquam satis.

When I commit sins, many things come to my mind.
First thing that kicks in is "Is this a mortal sin?"
Now, I know it is an archaic thing; after all, we are all called to God's Love and Mercy and there is no such thing as a sin that kills the life of God in you, right? L.O.L.

Mortal sin does kill the life of God in you.
It drags you down from the state of Grace that we have been restored to in our Baptism.
You cannot take part in the Salvific mission of the Church, you cannot take part in the Sacramental life of the Church. Your prayers cannot earn merits derived from the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord. It is truly a terrible state and one must always pray that one never falls into such a state of spiritual destitute. It is a destitute far surpassing in agony and distress over and above any physical pain or poverty.

Of course, there are venial sins as well. Those sins that are not quite mortal in that they kill the life of God in you but nevertheless harmful to one's Spiritual health and offends the infinitely good Saviour. Petty they may seem but pennies make pounds. It is indeed a spiritual negligence when one examines one's conscience and do not bother to reflect on venial sins that he has committed. Whilst they are not spiritually lethal per se, they do gradually grab one's soul away from the Sacramental life of the Church and darken his conscience.

What would Our Lady say about us committing sins?
She offers herself to us as a refuge when we must turn to God from our sinful selves.
She is the advocate of sinners. We must remember to be in good terms with Her as She will be our Prime Advocate in our private judgement. Imagine a murderer and his lawyer. Does the lawyer also commit a murder just so that he can "fully" understand what his client has done? Is a lawyer completely inadequate as a lawyer if he has not committed the crimes of his client? The adequacy and efficacy of a lawyer in his job is not calibrated by his "personal participatory experience" of his client's wrongdoings but by his merits (well, at least ideally). Now, can anybody lay claim to be more spiritually excellent and meritorious as Our Lady?

She does indeed hate sins. There are many sacred images of Her feet garlanded with roses trampling on the snakes. She may have the most beautiful, exquisite and prayerful countenance but her feet are crushing the head of the serpent. As I keep saying, you do not mess with Mater Dei! But her hatred does not extend to us; even for those who do not accept Her as their mother. One admirable thing I observed from my monarchist friends (and they are some pretty fearsome ones) is that they do not seek to serve the Queen because She takes interest in charitable things. It is nothing else but that She IS their Queen. Not for Her merits (and they very humbly confess it is above their plane to speak of Her merits) but for Her Queenship. And I am pretty sure that She considers Her subjects not by their merits and demerits but solely by the fact that they are Her subjects. And such unconditional mutual allegiance is what binds us to Our Heavenly Queen; except in much higher degree in nobility, strength and Love.

When I commit sins, many things come to my mind.
I am angry about myself; that I am so pathetic a human being to fall into the same old stuff yet again. I am sad in that I have lost the state of Grace and my prayers will not be able to be used for the Salvific Mission of the Church. I feel guilty and ashamed. I am even angry to God sometimes; that I was born such a wretch. Then my eyes land on Our Lady's images and statues. Initially I would ask Her "What would you know about my sins? How would you understand me?" But She always brings me back to senses. She reminds me that it is my spiritual pride telling myself all these things and that in Truth I love Her dearly. She tells me not to despair in God's mercy and to be truly sorry for my sins to be forgiven. I am not going mad; She relates Herself with us all that intimately. She gladly offered Her Son as the One and Last Lamb to God and submitted Her will to God's so that Her Son may suffer and die for us. No greater love can a man have than to lay down his life for his friends. No motherly love can be greater than to give one's Son for His friends.

And you see, we all have that mother for each of us.

 If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool. (Isiah 1:18)

A parting gift for today is, for a change, a short video clip. You will see why I posted it!