“My Immaculate heart will triumph” … True Purity, and worthiness

Today, is the feast of the Immaculate conception of Mary. Time and the business of life, has added to some of the confusion surrounding this feast day of a profession of dogma (of which… there have only been 2 cases in the Church’s history).

In short, the church solemnly professes that Mary, from the very moment of her conception, was intended for a greater purpose, and as such, she was brought into time and creation with certain specifics.The most important of these, is her absolution from the stain of original sin, one we all carry and is only erased through Baptism and the Cross.

So how did this happen? How can we Catholics say this happened? Does not Christ save all people? Is not Calvary the quintesential event that harkens our salvation, and makes us worthy to be with God in heaven all the days of our lives?

Well, sure it does. However.. the Trinity has always existed, in fullness. The incarnation was the coming of God into time, but in Genesis, it is said “Let US make man in OUR image.”  We need not think of Calvary in linear terms any more then we should think of the Trinity in such terms

The original Ark, was made with specifics – In Exodus we can read

“37 Next Bezalel made the Ark of acacia wood—a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high.[a] He overlaid it inside and outside with pure gold, and he ran a molding of gold all around it. He cast four gold rings and attached them to its four feet, two rings on each side. Then he made poles from acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. He inserted the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it.

Then he made the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—from pure gold. It was 45 inches long and 27 inches wide.[b]He made two cherubim from hammered gold and placed them on the two ends of the atonement cover. He molded the cherubim on each end of the atonement cover, making it all of one piece of gold. The cherubim faced each other and looked down on the atonement cover. With their wings spread above it, they protected it.”

Just like the ark of the old covenant (that by which the People of God were reconciled with him) had specifics, so too did Mary – and, just like the Ark of the covenant was so pure, and so Holy as it Housed the Shekinah Glory of God, so too, Mary, who houses the embodiment of the living God, is also Holy –

This is why at the Council of Ephesus she was declared “Theo Tokos”, or God-Bearer .  To refuse her the title of  “Mother of God” is to deny the homeostatic Union of the incarnation, without which, nothing matters. Surely we wont say it was a lie, so why do we deny the attributes of Mary, held to her from the moment of her creation?

There was no other way for a fallen person to have carried the Holy of Holies, because scripture tells us of the Temple, that nothing unholy can enter it. The Holy spirit overshadowed Mary in such a way, that it remained with her her entire life (which is why we also believe in the Assumption…I digress)

Mary has been said to be the Highest in creation. She is “Blessed among women”, who by nature, hold a higher mystical state then men. Mary by her nature, is the only one worthy even in her life, to approach and petition our Lord. As such it is right and fitting for us to ask her intercession (as a good Jewish boy, Jesus always listens to mom). 

Right now we need that intercession more then ever. She is the only person who we in our imperfect state can even dare to intercede for us. We need that right now – Man is in an evil state… we need someone truly worthy to speak on our behalf – If nothing else, the purity of her voice only adds to our help.

St Nicholas Dec 6th

Today we celebrated (on the Julian Calendar…and new calendrists alike) the feast of St Nicholas. Nicholas was a bishop in the 4th century, and his extreme acts of charity helped to mold the eventual myth (I say myth as St Nicholas was very much a real man,, from turkey  (Dont tell the greeks that part) of Santa Claus.

However there is more to Nicholas then a lot of people realize. Among students of patristics (that is… the roots of our Sacred Traditions), We know him to have been a Bishop who with others, attended the first eccumenical counil, at Nicea. Nicea specifically dealt with the first challenge to Christ’s nature, the Arian Heresy. Arius, a Bishop from Alexandria, held that while Christ was more then a Man, he was less then God. This was contradictory not only to sacred tradition, but also to the deposit of faith found in Holy Scripture. It is said that the debate got so very heated, that “Jolly old Saint Nick” reached over and struck Arius for his heresy, of which Nicholas quickly found himself imprissoned. Now, eventually the council came to its senses, deposed of Arius, exhonerated Nicholas, and formulated the Nicene Creed… which above all says that

“God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, Begotten, Not MADE, Consubstantial with the Father …….  By the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became MAN”

This is the absolute core to Christology, and leads us to Theosis. As St Thomas Aquinas said ” God Became man, so that man could become like God”  (ironically… alot of orthodox dont like Thomas… ‘cus scholasticism… I digress) – If there is nothing else to know about the Man..its that He is God..and he loved us so much that he lowered himself to be with us…so that we could be raised to Him.

The bigger lesson here, and is most relevant to today, is the courage of Nicholas. He wasnt concerned (or perhaps in his angst didnt think) that he would have consequences for defending the faith. He was vocal, and strong about it  – We might not have a church today, had it not been for St Nicholas. 

I think someone who has the “power” should have declared him a Patron of Bishops a long time ago. Perhaps this is why he very much is a super patron to many orthodox flavors. There probably isnt a better embodiment of the Eastern orthodox mind then St Nicholas. 

So, today as you recollect on the shoes, and chocolate coins, and so forth, perhaps also reflect on where the man himself came from, and what he did. Implore his intercession, and pray to have the courage that St Nicholas had, who despite all odds, stood for what was right, and orthodox, even at risk to his own life

The Wait… The Arrival – Renewal

For Latin Rite Catholic Christians, this week marks the beginning of another Advent – a word that quite literally means “The Arrival”. We await the arrival of our King… born in a stable, in all humility and quiet splendor.

Many of us are going through a hard time with our Church right now. Unless you have been under a rock the past year, you know the news, and its not good. For many of us the past year has been met with anger, disappointment, resentment. Once again men we trusted… led many astray, in pursuit of worldly pleasures. While it is epitomized in the sexual abuse crisis, it is equally exhibited in a broader sense in the relaxed characters of many of our clergy, who have opted for popularity out of pride, rather then as a great confessor of mine used to tell me “Following Jesus up the hill”.

Its easy to want to throw your hands up…run away. Some of us have even threatened to “Dox”… (in other words, head east). This isn’t the answer though either. 

Jesus told us the church would never end… that Hell’s gates could never triumph – But he didn’t absolve us of being involved in that… He simply said…it would never end. Its up to us now, more then ever, to defend Holy Mother church. Those of us who are apologists (amateur or professional), need to teach. Those of us who can contribute, need to. Most importantly all of us need to be courageous, and our Bishops, Priests, Deacons need our prayers.. especially the “rotten” ones, but most importantly the pious ones.. who are mighty…but fewer.

Our Lord allowed the enemy 100 years to do his worst, and its easy to say.. that that has occurred… However its superficial.  Even as we speak, rebirth and renewal is occurring. Though they are in small pockets, bastions of Orthodoxy are springing up.

Im truly convinced at this point it is manifest in the renewal of the Liturgy, that you see not in great Orders such as the FSP or the ICKSP – No they only paved the way. The real renewal is coming when the small oratories and parishes embrace the so called “Mass of Ages”. 

How we worship, is how we believe – Ill take it a step further… How OTHERS SEE US WORSHIP… is how they know Who we believe in. When the Mass is completely rooted in sublime worship, our eyes cannot help but be fixated on our God.. who is living before our eyes. 

This Advent.. I know I personally am going to try to make it about renewal, both in a deepening of my understanding of the liturgy, but also doing my part to bring about that renewal, which I again think is happening before us. We all need to take courage. While we can seem overwhelmed by an overwhelming complacency, in the end, all will be restored… All will be right, and all will know HIM in the liturgy. 

 

“Come Lord Jesus, Come Quickly”