Friday, August 17, 2012

Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/17

Is Mental Prayer Easy?

Any one who has a real desire to be saved, and who believes that the opinion of St. Alphonsus, and all other spiritual teachers, that mortal sin and mental prayer can not live together, but are mutually destructive, is really true, must feel a desire to adopt so certain a means of salvation.

But many are faint-hearted and dread the little difficulty they feel in beginning a new exercise, and many more lack the courage and self-denial necessary to continue in it after the novelty has worn away, and the yoke of perseverance begins to gall. Blessed are they who courageously persevere, for their salvation is secure!

Those who find it difficult to begin, or are tempted to abandon this powerful means of salvation, must pluck up heart, and encourage themselves by remembering that mental prayer requires no learning, no special power of mind, no extraordinary grace, but only a resolute will and a desire to please God.

In fact the hard matter is to convince people how easy and simple a matter mental prayer really is, and how the difficulty is far more imaginary than real. This difficulty often rises from not having grasped the true idea of what is meant by mental prayer, and the false idea of the exercise once formed, is often never corrected, the consequence being that the practice is either abandoned in disgust, or persevered in with extreme repugnance, and little fruit.

One common cause of misunderstanding, perhaps the most common of all, is the custom of calling the whole exercise by the name of one subordinate and not most important part, that is meditation.

From this, the idea arises that it is a prolonged spiritual study, drawn out at length with many divisions and much complicated process, and this notion frightens many good souls, and makes them fall back on vocal prayer alone.

They imagine that the soul must preach a discourse to itself, and they feel no talent for preaching. Many, if they spoke their minds dearly, would say, "I can not meditate, but if I might be allowed to pray during that time instead, I could do very well!"

This is no imaginary case, as anyone who has had any experience will testify, and this miserable misunderstanding that so often holds souls back for years, is partly brought about by defective teach¬ing, but partly also by the name meditation being used, instead of the more comprehensive one of mental prayer...

(continued tomorrow)
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From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914

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Catholic Relief Services Scandal Hits the Blogosphere

August 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In July, LifeSiteNews broke the story of Catholic Relief Services, “the official overseas relief and development agency of the USCCB,” granting $5.3 million to CARE, a pro-contraception and pro-abortion organization.

Since then, numerous blogs have picked up the story—and investigated further. “Red State” has reported on CRS as a dues-paying member of both the pro-conraception CORE Group and the pro-abortion group MEDiCAM.

“Societas Restituo Catholicam” has the evidence on MEDiCAM in a detailed post showing visual proof of the company’s “firm commitment to expanding abortion” since 2005.

In a press release, CRS said their involvement with these organizations actually demonstrates “our faithfulness to Church teaching” because they can “contribute our Catholic voice to the conversation.”

The inconsistencies of the explanation have been hashed out at “Veneremur Cernui” in a series of posts going back to February 2010, when CRS hit the spotlight for giving money to global warming advocates.

Each blog names employees at CRS who are, the evidence suggests, directly involved in programs that go against Church teaching. They take issue with the CRS’s statement that “CRS seeks to advance the common good of the world through the uncommon excellence of our staff, partners and programs.”

“Red State” reports that two CRS employees, Rolando Figueroa and Kristin Weinhauer, reviewed a document “produced through a project that CRS had direct oversight for” that clearly promotes contraception—especially among young people—as a means of protecting against STDs.

“Societas Restituo Catholicam” shows that Dr. Sok Pun, another CRS employee, is on the 2011 Steering Committee of MEDiCAM.

Another blog, “Rorate Caeli,” posts on the CRS scandal and makes a fresh point: while Catholics can make the choice to stop donating to CRS, “ultimately the bishops of the United States are directly responsible…and they are the ones who must be pressured to immediately intervene and completely overhaul CRS.”
Source here

The rot of the death culture is sickening...where is the the oversight? Simply disgusting!

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Gospel for Friday, 19th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 19:3-12

Marriage and Virginity
[3] And Pharisees came up to Him (Jesus) and tested Him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" [4] He answered, "Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, [5] and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one'? [6] So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder." [7] They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" [8] He said to them, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. [9] And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

[10] The disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry." [11] But He said to them, "Not all men can receive this precept, but only those to whom it is given. [12] For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."
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Commentary:
4-5. "Marriage and married love are by nature ordered to the procreation and education of children. Indeed children are the supreme gift of marriage and greatly contribute to the good of the parents themselves. God Himself said: `It is not good that man should be alone' (Genesis 2:18), and `from the beginning (He) made them male and female' (Matthew 19:4); wishing to associate them in a special way with his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: `Be fruitful and multiply' (Genesis 1:28). Without intending to underestimate the other ends of marriage, it must be said that true married life and the whole structure of family life which results from it is directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich His family from day to day" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 50).

9. Our Lord's teaching on the unity and indissolubility of marriage is the main theme of this passage, apropos of which St. John Chrysostom comments that marriage is a lifelong union of man and woman (cf. "Hom. on St. Matthew", 62). On the meaning of "except for unchastity", see the note on Matthew 5:31-32).

11. "Not all men can receive this precept": our Lord is fully aware that the demands involved in His teaching on marriage and His recommendation of celibacy practised out of love of God run counter to human selfishness. That is why He says that acceptance of this teaching is a gift from God.

12. Our Lord speaks figuratively here, referring to those who, out of love for Him, renounce marriage and offer their lives completely to Him. Virginity embraced for the love of God is one of the Church's most precious charisms (cf. 1 Corinthians 7); the lives of those who practise virginity evoke the state of the blessed in Heaven, who are like the angels (cf. Matthew 22:30). This is why the Church's Magisterium teaches that the state of virginity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven is higher than the married state (cf. Council of Trent, "De Sacram. Matr.", can. 10; cf. also Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas"). On virginity and celibacy the Second Vatican Council teaches: "The Church's holiness is also fostered in a special way by the manifold counsels which the Lord proposes to His disciples in the Gospel for them to observe. Towering among these counsels is that precious gift of divine grace given to some by the Father (cf. Matthew 19:11; 1 Corinthians 7:7) to devote themselves to God alone more easily in virginity or celibacy [...]. This perfect continence for love of the Kingdom of Heaven has always been held in high esteem by the Church as a sign and stimulus of love, and as a singular source of spiritual fertility in the world" ("Lumen Gentium", 42; cf. "Perfectae Caritatis", 12). And, on celibacy specifically, see Vatican II's "Presbyterorum Ordinis", 16 and "Optatam Totius", 10.

However, both virginity and marriage are necessary for the growth of the Church, and both imply a specific calling from God: "Celibacy is precisely a gift of the Spirit. A similar though different gift is contained in the vocation to true and faithful married love, directed towards procreation according to the flesh, in the very lofty context of the sacrament of Matrimony. It is obvious that this gift is fundamental for the building up of the great community of the Church, the people of God. But if this community wishes to respond fully to its vocation in Jesus Christ, there will also have to be realized in it, in the correct proportion, that other gift, the gift of celibacy `for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven'" (John Paul II, "Letter To All Priests", 1979).
___________________________
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

An open letter to Cardinal Dolan about the Obama invitation

From Life Site News, Judie Brown

Your Eminence,

During the last week, there has been much written on diocesan websites and by other bishops concerning the controversy created by your invitation to President Obama to attend the Alfred E. Smith dinner. Much of what has been written seeks to justify that invitation.

American Life League recently launched an effort to convince you to rescind that invitation. The reason for this memo is to let you know exactly why we are doing what we are doing.

First, let me point out that Cardinal Egan invited Mr. Obama to this same dinner four years ago and we did not object. Although we disagreed with Obama’s basic philosophies, we felt that an attempt by the cardinal to show congeniality was worth trying.

However, it is now four years later and it is clear that whatever the cardinal hoped to accomplish at the 2008 dinner did not work. In four short years, President Obama has done everything in his power to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church. As you know, he is implementing programs and policies that may soon make it necessary for the Church to repudiate our basic beliefs or close down all of our charitable and educational organizations.

Your Eminence, Mr. Obama has a long history with the Catholic Church. From his days as a community organizer working with Catholic churches in Chicago to his current attack on our beliefs, Obama has shown himself to be a shrewd politician with a captivating personality. How else do you explain the fact that, despite his very public support of abortion, contraception, and Planned Parenthood, he received 54 percent of the Catholic vote in 2008?

The question is NOT why you invited Mr. Obama to the dinner. The real question is why he accepted.

I submit to you that the reason he accepted is that he has nothing to lose. The Al Smith Foundation website touts that, at the 2008 dinner, Obama displayed “wit, wisdom, warmth, and wile.” I am sure the author of those words thought he was being totally complimentary, but the fact is that he was very accurate. Synonyms for “wile” are, of course, “hoax,” “ploy,” “scam,” and “deception.”

I believe Mr. Obama sees the 2012 Al Smith dinner as an opportunity to, once again, use his wiles to entice the Catholics in America to “trust” him——a trust that he has betrayed time and time again.

Your Eminence, when I think of the outcome of the event - where you are seen hosting both candidates for president - I am convinced the idea that will be transmitted through the images of that dinner will be that a vote for either candidate is okay with the hierarchy.

This is precisely why American Life League launched the No Dinner for Obama campaign. We don’t want Catholics to be confused about the most pro-abortion president in American history. Our duty is to be faithful and to defend moral principles, while begging our hierarchy to do the same.

We pray for you, and all members of the hierarchy, “Lead us out of temptation and toward truth, particularly today when so much is at stake.”

You and the bishops of the Church have convinced us over the last several months that the future of the Catholic Church in America is hanging in the balance. We MUST oppose the contraceptive mandate and all of the other affronts the current administration is throwing at us.

Inviting the head of that administration to dinner and a night of humor and congeniality is NOT how we are going to save our Church.

Please, your Eminence, cancel the invitation or cancel the dinner. If you do neither, I am very afraid that, at this time next year, you may be forced to cancel most Church activities that take place outside the confines of your physical churches.

Asking the blessing of Your Eminence, I am,

Yours respectfully in Christ,

Judie Brown, President American Life League
Link here

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Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/16

Mental Prayer

...All prayer, therefore, of whatever kind, must be "in spirit and in truth" (John iv. 23), but vocal prayer is confined to a prescribed form of words, whereas mental prayer is the spontaneous utterance of the soul either with or without words. When St. Francis said an Our Father, or recited his office, he used vocal prayer; when he knelt before God without a word his prayer was purely mental; when he spent the whole night in saying "My God and my all," his mental prayer was mingled with words which expressed the burn¬ing love of his seraphic soul.


St. Alphonsus says, "He who neglects meditation (a part of mental prayer), and is distracted by the affairs of the world, will not know his spiritual wants, the dangers to which his salvation is exposed, the means he ought to take to conquer temptations, and will forget the necessity of the prayer of petition for all men; thus he will not ask for what is necessary, and by not asking God's grace, he will certainly lose his soul."

In the same way St. Teresa asks: "How can charity last, unless God gives perseverance? How will the Lord gives us perseverance if we neglect to ask Him for it? And how shall we ask it without mental prayer? Without mental prayer there is not the communication with God, which is necessary for the preservation of virtue."

The holy Doctors agree that those who persevere in mental prayer will live in God's grace. The following words are the deliberate sentence of the holy Doctor St. Alphonsus, the conclusion gathered from his vast learning and experience: "Many say the Rosary, the Office of Our Lady, and perform other acts. of devotion, but they still continue in sin. But it is impossible for him who perseveres in mental prayer to continue in sin; he will either give up mental prayer, or renounce sin. Mental prayer and sin can not exist together. And this we see by experience; they who make mental prayer, rarely fall into mortal sin; and should they have the misery of falling into sin, by persevering in mental prayer, they see their misery, and return to God. Let a soul, says St. Teresa, be ever so negligent, if she perseveres in mental prayer, the Lord will bring her back to the haven of salvation."

If this were merely the opinion of St. Alphonsus himself it would be of immense weight, considering his resplendent sanctity, his vast spiritual learning, and the varied experience of his long and active life, but besides this the holy Doctor is here only summing up, in one sentence, the teaching and experience of all the doctors, saints, writers, preachers, and confessors of the whole Church since the beginning.

What stronger argument could be used to prove the importance and necessity of mental prayer?


(continued tomorrow)
_________

From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914

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Gospel for Thursday, 19th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 18:21-19:1

Forgiveness of Injuries. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
[21] Then Peter came up and said to Him (Jesus), "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" [22] Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

[23] "Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. [24] When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; [25] and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. [26] So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' [27] And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. [28] But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, `Pay what you owe.' [29] So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' [30] He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay his debt. [31] When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. [32] Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; [33] and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' [34] And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. [35] So also My Heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

[1] Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, He went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.
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Commentary:
21-35. Peter's question and particularly Jesus' reply prescribe the spirit of understanding and mercy which should govern Christians' behavior.

In Hebrew the figure of seventy times seven means the same as "always" (cf. Genesis 4:24): "Therefore, our Lord did not limit forgiveness to a fixed number, but declared that it must be continuous and forever" (Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. Matthew", 6). Here also we can see the contrast between the man's ungenerous, calculating approach to forgiveness, and God's infinite mercy. The parable also clearly shows that we are totally in God's debt. A talent was the equivalent of six thousand denarii, and a denarius a working man's daily wage. Ten thousand talents, an enormous sum, gives us an idea of the immense value attaching to the pardon we receive from God. Overall, the parable teaches that we must always forgive our brothers, and must do so wholeheartedly.

"Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offense that you can suffer from them is nothing compared to what God has pardoned you" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 452).
___________________________
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/15

Mental Prayer

"PRAYER is called by St. Gregory Nazianzen, a conference, or conversation with God.

St. John Chrysostom speaks of prayer as a discourse with the divine majesty.

According to St. Augustine it is the raising up of the soul to God.

St. Francis de Sales describes it as a conversation of the soul with God, by which we aspire to Him and breathe in Him, and He, in return, inspires us and breathes on us.

Father Bertrand Wilberforce, in his tract on "Mental Prayer," writes:
All prayer is the speaking of the soul to God. This may be done in three ways. For the prayer may be either in thought only, unexpressed in any external way, or on the other hand the secret thoughts and feelings of the soul may be clothed in words; and these words, again, may either be confined to a set form, or they may be words of our own, unfettered by any form, and expressing the emotions of our soul at the moment.

In the first case our prayer will be purely mental; in the second, in which we employ a set form of words, it will be vocal prayer; in the third case, where the prayer is chiefly in thought, but these thoughts are allowed to oreak forth into words in anyway that at the moment seem best to expr6Ss the feelings of the soul, it is a mixture of mental and vocal prayer, but as the words are spontaneous and not in any prescribed form, it may justly be considered as mental prayer.

In an audience with the Pope, we might read a written address to his Holiness, or we might trust to the words that might occur at the moment, to express what we desired to convey to his mind.

But if God were to enable the Pope to read the thoughts of our mind, we might then simply stand silent in his presence, and he would see all that we wanted to express. The formal address would be vocal prayer, the silent standing before his throne would be purely mental prayer, the conversation with unprepared words would be a mixture of the two, and might be called mental prayer in a more gen¬eral and extended sense. God knows our secret thoughts more clearly than we can express them, more certainly than we ourselves can know them, and words therefore are not necessary in our intercourse with Him, though often a considerable help to us.

A set form of words spoken, or read, can not be called prayer at all, unless the mind intends it as prayer, and gives some kind of spiritual attention, either to the actual sense of the words themselves, or to God Himself while they are being uttered. Shakespeare spoke as a theologian when, in Hamlet, he put into the mouth of the king, who asked for pardon without repentance:
My words go up, my thoughts remain below,
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
God condemned the merely material homage of the Jews by declaring, "This people honoreth Me with their lips, out their heart is far from Me."

(continued tomorrow)
_________

From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914

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Gospel for Aug 15, Solemnity: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Old Calendar: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From: Luke 1:39-56

The Visitation
[39] In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, [40] and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. [41] And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit [42] and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! [43] And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? [44] For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. [45] And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

The Magnificat
[46] And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, [47] and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, [48] for He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; [49] for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. [50] And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. [51] He has shown strength with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, [52] He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; [53] He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away. [54] He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, [55] as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."

[56] And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.
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Commentary:
39-56. We contemplate this episode of our Lady's visit to her cousin St. Elizabeth in the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary: "Joyfully keep Joseph and Mary company...and you will hear the traditions of the House of David.... We walk in haste towards the mountains, to a town of the tribe of Judah (Luke 1:39).

"We arrive. It is the house where John the Baptist is to be born. Elizabeth gratefully hails the Mother of her Redeemer: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? (Luke 1:42-43).

"The unborn Baptist quivers...(Luke 1:41). Mary's humility pours forth in the "Magnificat".... And you and I, who are proud--who were proud--promise to be humble" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary").

39. On learning from the angel that her cousin St. Elizabeth is soon to give birth and is in need of support, our Lady in her charity hastens to her aid. She has no regard for the difficulties this involves. Although we do not know where exactly Elizabeth was living (it is now thought to be Ain Karim), it certainly meant a journey into the hill country which at that time would have taken four days.

From Mary's visit to Elizabeth Christians should learn to be caring people. "If we have this filial contact with Mary, we won't be able to think just about ourselves and our problems. Selfish personal problems will find no place in our mind" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By," 145).

42. St. Bede comments that Elizabeth blesses Mary using the same words as the archangel "to show that she should be honored by angels and by men and why she should indeed be revered above all other women" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").

When we say the "Hail Mary" we repeat these divine greetings, "rejoicing with Mary at her dignity as Mother of God and praising the Lord, thanking Him for having given us Jesus Christ through Mary" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 333).

43. Elizabeth is moved by the Holy Spirit to call Mary "the mother of my Lord", thereby showing that Mary is the Mother of God.

44. Although he was conceived in sin--original sin--like other men, St. John the Baptist was born sinless because he was sanctified in his mother's womb by the presence of Jesus Christ (then in Mary's womb) and of the Blessed Virgin. On receiving this grace of God St. John rejoices by leaping with joy in his mother's womb--thereby fulfilling the archangel's prophecy (cf. Luke 1:15).

St. John Chrysostom comments on this scene of the Gospel: "See how new and how wonderful this mystery is. He has not yet left the womb but he speaks by leaping; he is not yet allowed to cry out but he makes himself heard by his actions [...]; he has not yet seen the light but he points out the Sun; he has not yet been born and he is keen to act as Precursor. The Lord is present, so he cannot contain himself or wait for nature to run its course: he wants to break out of the prison of his mother's womb and he makes sure he witnesses to the fact that the Savior is about to come" ("Sermo Apud Metaphr., Mense Julio").

45. Joining the chorus of all future generations, Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, declares the Lord's Mother to be blessed and praises her faith. No one ever had faith to compare with Mary's; she is the model of the attitude a creature should have towards its Creator--complete submission, total attachment. Through her faith, Mary is the instrument chosen by God to bring about the Redemption; as Mediatrix of all graces, she is associated with the redemptive work of her Son: "This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to His death; first when Mary, arising in haste to go to visit Elizabeth, is greeted by her as blessed because of her belief in the promise of salvation and the Precursor leaps with joy in the womb of his mother [...]. The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood (cf. John 19:25), in keeping with the Divine Plan, enduring with her only-begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associating herself with His sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which was born of her" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 57f).

The new Latin text gives a literal rendering of the original Greek when it says "quae credidit" (RSV "she who has believed") as opposed to the Vulgate "quae credidisti" ("you who have believed") which gave more of the sense than a literal rendering.

46-55. Mary's "Magnificat" canticle is a poem of singular beauty. It evokes certain passages of the Old Testament with which she would have been very familiar (especially 1 Samuel 2:1-10).

Three stanzas may be distinguished in the canticle: in the first (verses 46-50) Mary glorifies God for making her the Mother of the Savior, which is why future generations will call her blessed; she shows that the Incarnation is a mysterious __expression of God's power and holiness and mercy. In the second (verses 51-53) she teaches us that the Lord has always had a preference for the humble, resisting the proud and boastful. In the third (verses 54-55) she proclaims that God, in keeping with His promise, has always taken care of His chosen people--and now does them the greatest honor of all by becoming a Jew (cf. Romans 1:3).

"Our prayer can accompany and imitate this prayer of Mary. Like her, we feel the desire to sing, to acclaim the wonders of God, so that all mankind and all creation may share our joy" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 144).

46-47. "The first fruits of the Holy Spirit are peace and joy. And the Blessed Virgin had received within herself all the grace of the Holy Spirit" (St. Basil, "In Psalmos Homilae", on Psalm 32). Mary's soul overflows in the words of the "Magnificat". God's favors cause every humble soul to feel joy and gratitude. In the case of the Blessed Virgin, God has bestowed more on her than on any other creature. "Virgin Mother of God, He whom the heavens cannot contain, on becoming man, enclosed Himself within your womb" ("Roman Missal", Antiphon of the Common of the Mass for Feasts of Our Lady). The humble Virgin of Nazareth is going to be the Mother of God; the Creator's omnipotence has never before manifested itself in as complete a way as this.

48-49. Mary's __expression of humility causes St. Bede to exclaim: "It was fitting, then, that just as death entered the world through the pride of our first parents, the entry of Life should be manifested by the humility of Mary" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").

"How great the value of humility!--"Quia respexit humilitatem.... It is not of her faith, nor of her charity, nor of her immaculate purity that our Mother speaks in the house of Zachary. Her joyful hymn sings: `Since He has looked on my humility, all generations will call me blessed'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 598).

God rewards our Lady's humility by mankind's recognition of her greatness: "All generations will call me blessed." This prophecy is fulfilled every time someone says the Hail Mary, and indeed she is praised on earth continually, without interruption. "From the earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, under whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayer in all their perils and needs. Accordingly, following the Council of Ephesus, there was a remarkable growth in the cult of the people of God towards Mary, in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words: `all generations will call me blessed, for He who is mighty has done great things for me'" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 66).

50. "And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation": "At the very moment of the Incarnation, these words open up a new perspective of salvation history. After the Resurrection of Christ, this perspective is new on both the historical and the eschatological level. From that time onwards there is a succession of new generations of individuals in the immense human family, in ever-increasing dimensions; there is also a succession of new generations of the people of God, marked with the sign of the Cross and of the Resurrection and `sealed' with the sign of the paschal mystery of Christ, the absolute revelation of the mercy that Mary proclaimed on the threshold of her kinswoman's house: "His mercy is [...] from generation to generation' [...].

"Mary, then, is the one who has the "deepest knowledge of the mystery of God's mercy". She knows its price, she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the "Mother of Mercy": Our Lady of Mercy, or Mother of Divine Mercy; in each one of these titles there is a deep theological meaning, for they express the special preparation of her soul, of her whole personality, so that she was able to perceive, through the complex events, first of Israel, then of every individual and of the whole of humanity, that mercy of which `from generation to generation' people become sharers according to the eternal design of the Most Holy Trinity" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 9).

51. "The proud": those who want to be regarded as superior to others, whom they look down on. This also refers to those who, in their arrogance, seek to organize society without reference to, or in opposition to, God's law. Even if they seem to do so successfully, the words of our Lady's canticle will ultimately come true, for God will scatter them as He did those who tried to build the Tower of Babel, thinking that they could reach as high as Heaven (cf. Genesis 11:4).

"When pride takes hold of a soul, it is no surprise to find it bringing along with it a whole string of other vices--greed, self-indulgence, envy, injustice. The proud man is always vainly striving to dethrone God, who is merciful to all His creatures, so as to make room for himself and his ever cruel ways.

"We should beg God not to let us fall into this temptation. Pride is the worst sin of all, and the most ridiculous.... Pride is unpleasant, even from a human point of view. The person who rates himself better than everyone and everything is constantly studying himself and looking down on other people, who in turn react by ridiculing his foolish vanity" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 100).

53. This form of divine providence has been experienced countless times over the course of history. For example, God nourished the people of Israel with manna during their forty years in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4-35); similarly His angel brought food to Elijah (1 Kings 19:5-8), and to Daniel in the lions' den (Daniel 14:31-40); and the widow of Sarepta was given a supply of oil which miraculously never ran out (1 Kings 17:8ff). So, too, the Blessed Virgin's yearning for holiness was fulfilled by the incarnation of the Word.

God nourished the chosen people with His Law and the preaching of His prophets, but the rest of mankind was left hungry for His word, a hunger now satisfied by the Incarnation. This gift of God will be accepted by the humble; the self-sufficient, having no desire for the good things of God, will not partake of them (cf. St. Basil, "In Psalmos Homilae", on Psalm 33).

54. God led the people of Israel as He would a child whom He loved tenderly: "the Lord your God bore you, as a man bears his son, in all the way that you went" (Deuteronomy 1:31). He did so many times, using Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, etc., and now He gives them a definitive leader by sending the Messiah--moved by His great mercy which takes pity on the wretchedness of Israel and of all mankind.

55. God promised the patriarchs of old that He would have mercy on mankind. This promise He made to Adam (Genesis 3:15), Abraham (Genesis 22:18), David (2 Samuel 7:12), etc. From all eternity God had planned and decreed that the Word should become incarnate for the salvation of all mankind. As Christ Himself put it, "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
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Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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