Living in the Two Hearts

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Second Sunday Advent: The Story Continues…

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on December 8, 2017

HAPPY SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
December 8, 2016

O Mary, conceived without the stain of
Original Sin, pray for us who
have recourse to thee.

Second Week of Advent…

This is a continuation from the previous week

Special Note: You’ll want your Bible present to look up passages.  If you have anything other than RSV, NAB, KJV, or NIV,  then your translation might lead you astray.  The newest translations are very loose with little holding to the original Latin text. And if you’re Catholic, I recommend the RSV, it’s the closest to the Latin text next to the Vulgate.

You’ll find Scripture colored maroon, the Catechism colored in deep green, my comments left plain, and the traditional writing done in various shades of blue and purple; and as always, emphasis has been added when appropriate.

Please take a moment to read the INTRODUCTION before you begin this Advent reflection.

ADVENT REFLECTION : PART II: Infancy and Childhood of the Mother of God

CATECHISM:

The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary isenriched from the first instant of her conceptioncomes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.” The Father blessed Mary MORE than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him in love,” (cf. Eph 1:3-4).

CCC§492 (emphasis mine)

The question here, “is this possible?  Can God really do this?”  My answer, OF COURSE HE CAN! He did so for Jeremiah…

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”   ~ Jeremiah 1:5

Because…

“For with God, nothing will be impossible.” ~ Luke 1:37

So how much more will He do for the Mother of His Son?

TRADITION:

AFTER GOD HAD CREATED Mary’s immaculate soul, He showed it to the choirs of angels in heaven, and they felt intense joy upon seeing its unique beauty.

Then, as Mary’s soul was infused into her body, her holy mother, St. Anne, was filled with the [Holy Spirit] and experienced an extraordinary devotion and happiness. Throughout rest of her life, and especially during the next nine months, she constantly received new graces and enlightenment concerning the great mystery of the Incarnation, and frequently praised the Lord in canticles of love.

Not so unusual, look what happened when Mary, only a few weeks pregnant with our Savior, visited with her kinswoman Elizabeth: And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe in her womb leaped for joy; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’ ”  Hey, does that sound familiar?  (Hail Mary full of grace…blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus…) ~Luke 1: 41-42

However, in order to increase her merit, God allowed St. Anne to undergo grievous trials during her pregnancy… Satan did not know that her daughter was to be the Mother of the Saviour,… [but] he did his best to tempt and disturb and harm her… she resisted all his attacks with humble fortitude, patience, and prayer.

CATECHISM

What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ. ~ CCC§487

What Mary does, who Mary is, how Mary is obedient and LOVES God is the model for us, the the REAL HUMAN EXAMPLE of how we can LOVE God, be OBEDIENT to God, LISTEN to God and accept His commands…just as her Son would ALSO DO during His lifetime on earth.

Did Christ endure trials during His life, or was it all a ‘bed of roses’?  Did Satan try to tempt Christ or did he just leave the Son of God alone?  Did Jesus come to live among His creation because He LOVES us or…not?

He IS God and He IS man, and because His mother said, ‘YES’, to God’s plan we are redeemed.  Her participation LEAD TO our REDEMPTION!

The Christian tradition sees… the “New Adam” who, because He “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,” makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience of Adam,(cf. 1Cor 15: 21-22, 45; Phil 2:8; Romans 5: 19-20).

~CCC§411

Thus it is SUPER IMPORTANT to make the distinction and dispel a common misunderstanding among many of our Christian brethren…

CATECHISM

All generations will call me blessed“: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship,”(cf. Lk 1:48). The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . .

This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.”  The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as [The Rosary], an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.

~ CCC§971, (emphasis mine)

Catholics DO NOT worship Mary.  We Honor her as the Mother of God.  We have a special Devotion to her just as the favorite apostle of Jesus’ – that is John the Evangelist – did: “When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” ~John 19: 26-27.

As many of us in the Church believe and understand, John ‘stood in’ for us as our Savior gave all of us His mother as OUR mother.

Thus when we HONOR Mary we are following the 4th commandment: You shall honor your father AND your mother, (cf. Deut 5:16).

St. Anne with child Mary
(Google Images)

TRADITION

Early in September, St. Anne was informed interiorly by the Lord that the time of her daughter’s birth was near…

One evening the three women arrived and embraced Anne, congratulating her warmly. Standing with them, she poured forth her deep joy and thankfulness in a beautiful spontaneous canticle, …St. Anne prayed until nearly midnight…While she was praying thus, a supernatural light began to fill the room. Noticing it, the three friends threw themselves onto the floor and hid their faces in awe.  So the dazzling light entirely surrounded St. Anne, making her invisible.

Sound familiar? It should. Jesus’ three closest disciples,” Peter, James, and John his brother”, did something very similar while Jesus was TRANSFIGURED before them, and a “bright cloud overshadowed them”, and God spoke from this cloud, and they ‘hit the dirt’!  See… Mt 17: 1-6

A moment later she was holding in her hands a beautiful, spotless, radiant baby, which she tenderly wrapped in her cloak and pressed to her heart. With tears of fervent love and joy, she gazed at her child and then, raising her eyes to heaven and holding up the baby, she prayed:

“O Lord and Creator, with eternal thanks I offer Thee this blessed fruit of my womb which I have received from Thy bounty without any merit of mine. But how shall I be able to treat such a child worthily?”

Another holy woman also offered a prayer of thanks giving for the birth of her long awaited child, much longer than this, but the point is these prayers of thanksgiving reflect very much the culture that Mary was born into giving further insight into why Mary is not just a fortunate girl but one set specifically aside, BY GOD, to participate in the EXTRAORDINARY.  See Samuel 2: 1-10

God gave her to understand that she was to bring up her daughter with all motherly love and care but without outward show of reverence, while retaining inwardly profound veneration for the future Mother of the Messiah.

Why, do you suppose?  I think a line from Fiddler On the Roof would fit in nicely here: “People, hmph!  If God lived on earth, people would break His windows!  True, of course true!” ~Yenta, the Matchmaker, circa. Fidler On the Roof.

And what did Jesus say to those He cured at the beginning of His ministry AND to His own disciples, “Tell no one who I am”, (cf. Mt 16:20; Mk 7:36,  8:30; Lk 5:14…just to name a few…)

Now in heaven the Blessed Trinity announced to the choir of angels:  “Our Chosen One shall be called Mary, and this name is to be powerful in grace.”

CATECHISM

…many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the Mother of Christ, the “new Eve.” Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.

~CCC§411 (emphasis mine)

Why not take a moment, if you will, to read a small bit on the Infancy of Mary

TRADITION : AFTER MARY’S INFANCY: around the age of 4 years…

One day, three old priests came from Nazareth to give examination, in order to determine whether [Mary] was worthy of being accepted for service in the Temple…Throughout the examinations, under the guidance and inspiration of her angels, Mary had remained perfectly recollected and serious, and at the same time strikingly beautiful and lovable.

A few days later everyone in St. Joachim’s home was preparing for the trip to Jerusalem. Several fine ceremonial dresses which had been made for Mary were carefully packed up. Finally…at dawn, two donkeys were loaded with baggage, and St. Joachim and St. Anne set out, [with St. Anne] carrying Mary in her arms. The holy child was very happy to be going to the Temple

She was dressed in a lovely sky-blue robe with garlands of flowers around her arms and neck, and in one hand she carried a candle decorated with flowers. On each side of her were three girls in white with flowers and candles. Then came other girls and women. Everyone who saw them was touched by Mary’s extraordinarily holy appearance.

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.” Lk 1:38

At the outer entrance to the Temple, they were met by St. Joachim, Zacharias, and several other priests…Mary, in deep humility and adoration offered herself to God. She alone perceived that the Almighty welcomed her and accepted her, for she heard a voice from heaven saying:

“Come, My beloved, My spouse, come into My Temple, where I wish thee to offer Me praise and worship.”

With tears in their eyes, her father and mother placed their hands on her head and solemnly pronounced the words by which they gave her to the Lord, while a priest clip a few locks of her hair…

Then, after St. Anne and St. Joachim had tenderly blessed her, little Mary, without hesitating and without looking back, began to climb up the fifteen steps. She would not let anyone help her, but with remarkable resolution and dignity, she hastened up all by herself, filled with holy fervor and joy. Everyone who saw her was visibly affected.

THE BLESSED VIRGIN SAID TO ST. BRIDGET OF SWEDEN:

“From my infancy the Holy Spirit was perfectly with me. And as I grew, It filled me so completely as to leave no room sin to enter. When I had attained an age to know something of my Creator, I turned to Him with unspeakable love and desired Him with my whole heart.

I vowed in my heart to observe virginity if it was pleasing to Him, and to possess nothing in the world – but if God willed otherwise, that His Will, not mine, be done. I committed my will absolutely to Him.”

“And Mary Said, ‘Behold, I am the handmade of the Lord; be it be to me according to your word.’ ” ~Luke 1:38

CATECHISM

After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary. In [Mary] we contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on [the church’s] “pilgrimage of faith,” [AND] what [the Church] will be in the homeland at the end of her journey.

See... Rev 21:2, 28-21

There, “in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity,” “in the communion of all the saints,” the Church is awaited by the one she venerates as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother.

See… Jn 19: 26-27

In the meantime the Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come.

See… Rev 11:19, 12:1, 5 … Faithful to God, Obedient to His Love, and desiring complete union with our Creator.

Likewise [the Church] shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God, (cf. 2Peter 3:10).

~CCC§972 (emphasis mine)

Dawn Finds me ready to welcome YOU…

PRAYER: Ps 119: 145-152

The dawn finds me ready to welcome YOU, my God…

I call with all my heart; Lord, hear me, I will keep Your commands.  I will call upon You, save me, and I will do Your Will.  I rise before the dawn and cry for help, I hope in Your Word.  My eyes watch through the night to ponder Your promise.

In Your love hear my voice, O Lord; give me life by Your decrees.  Those who harm me unjustly drawn near; But You, O Lord, are close; Your commands are TRUTH.  Long have I known that Your Will is established for ever.

The dawn finds me ready to welcome YOU, my God…

Guide, guard and protect our hearts, O Lord, as we continue to prepare a place for YOU to dwell with us.  In Your Holy and Precious name, Jesus Christ,  we pray, AMEN!

Recommended Reading:

Presentation I : Personal Reflection (scroll down)
Presentation II

Take a look at Jesus’ life as you pray with His mother:
Praying the Rosary

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Advent Begins…

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on December 3, 2017

We prepare for 4 weeks the coming of the Savior of the world.

Special Note: You’ll want your Bible present to look up passages.  If you have anything other than RSV, NAB, KJV, or NIV,  then your translation might lead you astray.  The newest translations are very loose with little holding to the original Latin text. And if you’re Catholic, I recommend the RSV, it’s the closest to the Latin text next to the Vulgate.

What is Advent?

The Catechism of  the Catholic Church teaches us:

[It’s the] Liturgical Season of four weeks devoted to the preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas~Glossary Terms

When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming (cf. Rev22:17).  By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to His desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease,”(cf. Jn 3:30) ~CCC§524

To me it seems more than adequate to say, this Advent is unlike any other we have experienced in that so much is going on in our world today, that I feel it very necessary to pack as much ‘spiritual meat’ into the upcoming reflections as I can.  Time being of the essence I will republish writings I did called “As Seen Through Mary’s Eyes”, and add to them as much reference as I can to the Catechism and Sacred Scripture. 

So many people have missed the significance of God’s decision to come among us, first as an infant and then as a child and so forth, through His chosen vessel – that is Mary.  I CRINGE every time I hear someone refer to the movie, “The Nativity”, as a good source for a Christmas Devotion. It’s totally NOT.

I heard it once said that the creators of that film were surprised that it did not do as well as they thought it ought; but I wasn’t surprised.  The movie DISSED the Holy Family in a shameful way.  They ignored tradition and concentrated on just PARTS of Luke and Matthew’s Gospel accounts that suited their story instead of considering the FULLNESS of the story. 

It blatantly suggested that Mary and Joseph were just good people that had something extraordinary happen to them, and completely ignored the fact that Mary was more than just a good person while Joseph, in his choice of life, seemed fashioned for the task of caring for God and His mother by his Creator. 

This is why it is so IMPORTANT to have the FULLNESS of the FAITH.  That is BOTH Scripture AND Tradition (Good Theology).  That is what I hope these Advent writings will reflect, the fullness of the faith, and will give the reader the “spiritual meat” required to prepare one’s heart for the Coming of Christ our King as the rest of our world spirals into chaos.  By keeping Christ in our hearts and as our CENTER, regardless of the world and its follies, we will NOT be shaken, but will HOPE in Him. 

You’ll find Scripture colored maroon, the Catechism colored in deep green, my comments left plain, and the traditional writing done in various shades of blue and purple; and as always, emphasis has been added when appropriate.

Please take a moment to read the INTRODUCTION before you begin this Advent reflection.

Come Holy Spirit and Fill the Hearts of Your Faithful…

IN THE BEGINNING

BEFORE TIME BEGAN, the Holy Trinity decreed that one day, after the creation of the world and of man and after man’s fall, God the Son was to be born of a Virgin Mother. 

SCRIPTURE:

“…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” ~Gen 3:15

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign.  Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel. ~Isaiah 6:14

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. ~Eph 1: 3-4

In order that this Mother should be the purest human being who ever lived, Almighty God decreed that she was to be miraculously exempt from all stain of original sin…

Kissing the face of God…

CATECHISM

The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All Holy” (Panagia) and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature.” By the grace of God,  Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. ~CCC§493

Meaning….

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, (cf Lk 1:28),  was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God AND by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

~CCC§491

This is why it is a GRAVE ERROR to just present the Blessed Virgin as a really nice girl who had something extraordinary happen to her.  And unfortunately, most of the films made about Jesus’ life when dealing with His early years have done just that.  Forgive us, Holy Mother of God, we know NOT what we do.  Lord Jesus, do not hold this error regarding your Holy Mother against Your ignorant children.  May we do better to understand her role in our redemption during this Advent Season.

“God sent forth His Son,” but to prepare a body for Him, (cf Gal 4:4; Heb 10:5),  He wanted the free cooperation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of His Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (Lk 1: 26-27)

The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life

~CCC§488

Eve brought the expulsion from Eden thus entered in death, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall die.” (cf Gen 2: 16b-17)

But Mary brought forth the Savior who gives LIFE, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…all things were made through Him…In Him was LIFE, and the LIFE was the light of men.” (Jn 1:1, 3a, 4)

Thus Mary is the Mother of Life as she IS the Mother of God, Who is the Word made flesh, Jesus the Christ (cf Jn 1:14).

TRADITION:

St. Anne was born in Bethlehem of rich parents who owned many flocks of sheep and herds of cattle.  But they regularly gave away to the poor a large part of their possessions and kept very little for themselves.  After Anne’s birth they moved to a beautiful country estate… near Nazareth.

YEARS LATER…

St Anne & St Joachim – Parents of Mary

One day Anne happened to be praying fervently to God to give her a husband who would help her to live according to the Divine Law.  And at the very same moment on another farm near Nazareth and unusually pious middle-aged bachelor named Joachim was also praying for God’s help in choosing a wife.

When the prayers of St. Anne and St. Joachim were presented by the angels before the throne of the Blessed Trinity, God decreed that this pure couple should unite in marriage…

In their home they frequently talked together about God and the coming of the Redeemer, for which they prayed long and fervently.  Both Anne and Joachim had been serious even in their youth.  Now as they matured, they made a distinguished and devout couple.

In His wisdom Almighty God proceeded to purify them still further by giving them a heavy cross to bear, a cross which only grew heavier as the years passed: they remained childless.  Among the Israelites in those times, this was considered not only the greatest misfortunes and disgrace (1Sam 1:5,7,10-11)…

This same condition would reappear in Salvation History with St. Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist), and her husband, Zachariah, and their experience just before John was conceived.  See Luke 1: 5-7

But they took these humiliations with patience and continued to pray that God might bless their marriage with children.  Seven years passed without an answer to their prayers.

THEN ONE DAY…

…when Joachim was offering his sacrifice in the temple, the priest rebuked and insulted him saying, “Why do you come here, Joachim?  Your offerings are not acceptable to the Lord!”  His face burning with shame, the poor man withdrew to a corner of the Temple and prayed: “O Lord, my sins merit this disgrace.  But as I accept it according to Thy will, do not cast me away…”

That evening St. Anne was sitting under a great tree in her garden reading prayers… begging God to send Joachim home and to let them have at least one child – she was now 44 years.  Then she prayed…for the coming of the Messiah.  Just then the Archangel Gabriel suddenly appeared before her in resplendent form:

“Anne, servant of God, the Lord has heard thy petitions.  If He delays in their fulfillment, it is in order to prepare thee and give to thee much more than thou has asked…He sends me to give thee joyful news: He chooses thee to be the mother of her who is to give birth to the Redeemer of mankind! … now go to the Temple to give thanks to the Lord, and [you] shall meet Joachim at the Golden Gate.”

This time the Holy Spirit moved the priests in the Temple to accept Joachim’s offerings courteously, and several of his friends congratulated him.  Then two priests led him to the Holy Place and left him alone after burning incense on the altar.

While Joachim prayed on his knees with his arms extended, a bright angel appeared and told him that this childlessness was not a disgrace but and honor; for the child who was to be born of his wife would be the most perfect flower of the race of Abraham.

When Zechariah was praying at the Holy of Holies, as was his lot (see Lk 1: 8-9), the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and foretold him of John’s birth, (see Lk 1: 13-17).  Mind you, Zechariah didn’t handle the news too well and was struck dumb because of it, see Lk 1: 18-20.

The holy couple at the Golden Gate

Thus it happened that near the Golden GateThey hastened toward each other and embraced with tender emotion… As they now renewed their vow to offer their child to His Temple…A cloud of heavenly light enfolded them, while a great number of angels hovered over them…Never had a human couple achieved such supernatural purity of soul.

Thus did Almighty God prepare and purify Mary’s good parents until the great day at last came when the glorious mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God took place.

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS REPORTED TO HAVE SAID TO:

ST BRIDGET OF SWEDEN: Know that is not for your own sake alone that I speak to you, but also for the salvation of all Christians…

VEN. MOTHER MARY OF AGREDA: Many mysteries pertaining to My Mother…are still hidden,…I desire to make known to mortals how much her intercession is worth…If men would seek to please Me…if they would all begin to solicit her intercession from their whole heart, the world would find some relief.”

SISTER ANNA CATHERINE EMMERICH: I give you these visions – and I have ever done so – to prove that I shall be with My Church till the end of days.  But visions alone sanctify no one; you must practice charity, patience, and all the other virtues.”

PRAYER:

Lord, open our eyes and our ears to hear Your Word as we prepare to welcome Your Son into our hearts. Give us the knowledge of Your LOVE that we crave, and help us to bring that LOVE into our wounded and hungry hearts so that we may share it with others.  You Yourself said:

Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me. He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear… ~Rev 3:19-22

Therefore…

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy steadfast love; according to Thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Behold, Thou desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. ~Ps 51: 1-2, 6, 10

In Jesus’ name, we humbly pray, AMEN!

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