She Shall Crush Thy Head: 6 Examples of Women “Crushing” the Heads of Men in Scripture

Listers, in Genesis our first parents suffered a curse due to their fall into sin. One condition of the Fall was that God would place enmity between the woman and the serpent – but the phrase explaining the enmity and what will happen due to that enmity has been a matter of much debate. To wit, should it read he shall crush thy head or she shall crush thy head or even they shall crush thy head?1

Notice older translation below from the Douay-Rheims Bible:

“And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” Douay-Rheims Bible2

Modern Catholic texts read he shall crush your head:

“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.” RSV-CE

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” NAB3

Proponents of the prophecy reading and she shall crush often cite the strong biblical typology of women killing men by “crushing” their head. The typological pattern of a woman killing a man via “crushing” their head occurs three times in the Historical Books and five times overall in the Old Testament. The fulfillment of the prophecy comes with Mother Mary standing on Golgotha – the mount named the skull.4 Thus, you have a woman crushing the head of the serpent through the victory of Christ.5

 

And She Shall Crush: Typology in Holy Scripture

1. Jael

The debate is pertinent to the Book of Judges due to the story of Jael as a type cast of the woman “crushing” the head:

"Jael and Sisera, by Artemisia Gentileschi." Wiki.
“Jael and Sisera, by Artemisia Gentileschi.” Wiki.

Sisera, in the meantime, had fled on foot to the tent of Jael, wife of the Kenite Heber, since Jabin, king of Hazor, and the family of the Kenite Heber were at peace with one another. Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come in, my lord, come in with me; do not be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a rug.

He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink. I am thirsty.” But she opened a jug of milk for him to drink, and then covered him over. “Stand at the entrance of the tent,” he said to her. “If anyone comes and asks, ‘Is there someone here?’ say, ‘No!'”

Instead Jael, wife of Heber, got a tent peg and took a mallet in her hand. While Sisera was sound asleep, she stealthily approached him and drove the peg through his temple down into the ground, so that he perished in death. Then when Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, I will show you the man you seek.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg through his temple.6

 

2. The Tower & Abimelech

“The biblical account of the Battle of Thebaz begins in the middle of the siege. Already, Abimelech has taken most of the city and comes upon a heavily fortified tower. The civilians head towards the top of the tower while he fights his way through. Abimelech successfully fights most of the way towards the tower, however he was struck on the head by a mill-stone thrown by a woman from the wall above. Realizing that the wound was mortal, he ordered his armor-bearer to thrust him through with his sword, so that it might not be said he had perished by the hand of a woman.”7

Gustave Dore, "The Death of Abimelech." Wiki.
Gustave Dore, “The Death of Abimelech.” Wiki.

And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; he took the city, and killed the people that were in it; and he razed the city and sowed it with salt. When all the people of the Tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the stronghold of the house of El-berith. Abimelech was told that all the people of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together. And Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the men that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bundle of brushwood, and took it up and laid it on his shoulder. And he said to the men that were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste to do, as I have done.”

So every one of the people cut down his bundle and following Abimelech put it against the stronghold, and they set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem also died, about a thousand men and women. Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. 51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the people of the city fled to it, all the men and women, and shut themselves in; and they went to the roof of the tower. 52 And Abimelech came to the tower, and fought against it, and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 And a certain woman threw an upper millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and crushed his skull. 54 Then he called hastily to the young man his armor-bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.'” And his young man thrust him through, and he died.8

 

3. Head of Sheba

“When David returned to Jerusalem after the defeat of Absalom, strife arose between the ten tribes and the Tribe of Judah, because the latter took the lead in bringing back the king. Sheba took advantage of this state of things, and raised the standard of revolt, proclaiming, “We have no part in David.” With his followers he proceeded northward. David seeing it necessary to check this revolt, ordered Abishai to take the gibborim, “mighty men,” and the body-guard and such troops as he could gather, and pursue Sheba. Perceiving Amasa to be delaying his pursuit of Sheba, David appointed Abishai and Joab to join the expedition. Having treacherously put Amasa to death, Joab assumed the command of the army. Joab and Abishai arrived in the North of the nation at the city of Abel-beth-maachah, where they knew Sheba to be hiding. They besieged the city. A wise woman from the city (unnamed) convinced Joab not to destroy Abel Beth-Maacah, because the people did not want Sheba hiding there. She told the people of the city to kill Sheba, and his head was thrown over the wall to Joab.”9

Illustration from the Morgan Bible of Joab approaching Abel-beth-maachah and Sheba's head being thrown down (2 Samuel 20). Wiki.
Illustration from the Morgan Bible of Joab approaching Abel-beth-maachah and Sheba’s head being thrown down (2 Samuel 20). Wiki.

And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah; they cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart; and they were battering the wall, to throw it down. 16 Then a wise woman called from the city, “Hear! Hear! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.'” 17 And he came near her; and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your maidservant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” 18 Then she said, “They were wont to say in old time, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel’; and so they settled a matter. 19 I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel; you seek to destroy a city which is a mother in Israel; why will you swallow up the heritage of the LORD?”

Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David; give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.10

 

4. Judith

In the Book of Judith, “The story revolves around Judith, a daring and beautiful widow, who is upset with her Jewish countrymen for not trusting God to deliver them from their foreign conquerors. She goes with her loyal maid to the camp of the enemy general, Holofernes, with whom she slowly ingratiates herself, promising him information on the Israelites. Gaining his trust, she is allowed access to his tent one night as he lies in a drunken stupor. She decapitates him, then takes his head back to her fearful countrymen. The Assyrians, having lost their leader, disperse, and Israel is saved. Though she is courted by many, Judith remains unmarried for the rest of her life.”11

Judith Beheading Holofernes (1610-1620), by Cornelius Galle der Ältere - Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris).
Judith Beheading Holofernes (1610-1620), by Cornelius Galle der Ältere – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris).

So Judith was left alone in the tent , with Holofernes stretched out on his bed, for he was overcome with wine. 3 Now Judith had told her maid to stand outside the bedchamber and to wait for her to come out, as she did every day; for she said she would be going out for her prayers. And she had said the same thing to Bagoas. 4 So every one went out, and no one, either small or great, was left in the bedchamber. Then Judith, standing beside his bed, said in her heart, “O Lord God of all might, look in this hour upon the work of my hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem. 5 For now is the time to help thy inheritance, and to carry out my undertaking for the destruction of the enemies who have risen up against us.” 6 She went up to the post at the end of the bed, above Holofernes’ head, and took down his sword that hung there. 7 She came close to his bed and took hold of the hair of his head, and said, “Give me strength this day, O Lord God of Israel!” 8 And she struck his neck twice with all her might, and severed it from his body. 9 Then she tumbled his body off the bed and pulled down the canopy from the posts; after a moment she went out, and gave Holofernes’ head to her maid, 10 who placed it in her food bag. Then the two of them went out together, as they were accustomed to go for prayer; and they passed through the camp and circled around the valley and went up the mountain to Bethulia and came to its gates.12

 

5. Queen Esther

Gustave Dore, "Esther Accuses Haman."
Gustave Dore, “Esther Accuses Haman.”

Along with being the New Ark of the Covenant and the New Eve, Mother Mary is also the new Queen of the Kingdom. One of the key roles of the queen-mother was to intercede for her people. In the Davidic Kingdom, Bathsheba comes before the throne of her son to intercede for the people. In the New Davidic Kingdom, Mary comes before her son and intercedes for her people. In light of this queenly intercessory role, Queen Esther serves as a type of Mary, because she interceded for her people as well. It is probably due to the already strong Marian underpinnings that Esther is traditionally also listed among the women who “crushed” the head of a man. As Judith decapitates a man by severing his head from the neck, Esther intercedes and a man is hung on the gallows by his neck. It also helps that Scripture states that the plot of Haman comes “upon his own head.”

For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to crush and destroy them; but when Esther came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his wicked plot which he had devised against the Jews should come upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.13

 

6. Mary & Golgotha

The skull of Adam at the foot of the Cross: detail from a Crucifixion by Fra Angelico, 1435. Wiki.
The skull of Adam at the foot of the Cross: detail from a Crucifixion by Fra Angelico, 1435. Wiki.

The fulfillment of the prophecy comes with Mother Mary standing on Golgotha at the foot of the Cross. “In some Christian and Jewish traditions, the name Golgotha refers to the location of the skull of Adam. A common version states that Shem and Melchizedek traveled to the resting place of Noah’s Ark, retrieved the body of Adam from it, and were led by Angels to Golgotha – described as a skull-shaped hill at the centre of the Earth, where also the serpent’s head had been crushed following the fall of man. This tradition appears in numerous older sources, including the Kitab al-Magall, the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, the Cave of Treasures, and the writings of Patriarch Eutychius of Alexandria. It is also suggested that the location’s landscape resembled the shape of a skull, and gained its name for that reason.”14

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; 24* so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the scripture, “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” 25* So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26* When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. 28* After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.15

 

  1. Jimmy Akin: For an in depth treatment of the languages, see Who Will Crush the Serpent’s Head? []
  2. Note on v. 15 from DRB commentary – [15] She shall crush: Ipsa, the woman; so divers of the fathers read this place, conformably to the Latin: others read it ipsum, viz., the seed. The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent’s head. []
  3. Notes on v. 15 NAB – “He will strike . . . at his heel: since the antecedent for he and his is the collective noun offspring, i.e., all the descendants of the woman, a more exact rendering of the sacred writer’s words would be, “They will strike . . . at their heels.” However, later theology saw in this passage more than unending hostility between snakes and men. The serpent was regarded as the devil (⇒ Wisdom 2:24; ⇒ John 8:44; ⇒ Rev 12:9; ⇒ 20:2), whose eventual defeat seems implied in the contrast between head and heel. Because “the Son of God appeared that he might destroy the works of the devil” (⇒ 1 John 3:8), the passage can be understood as the first promise of a Redeemer for fallen mankind. The woman’s offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ.” []
  4. Golgotha: ORIGIN from late Latin, via Greek from an Aramaic form of Hebrew gulgoleth ‘skull’ (see Matt. 27:33). []
  5. Women of the Gen. 3:15 Prophecy: in Judges you have Jael and the woman who drops the millstone on Abimelech in chapter nine; the head of Seba in II Samuel 20:16; it occurs again with Judith and in the book of Esther. []
  6. 4:17-22 []
  7. Abimelech. []
  8. Judges 9:45-54. []
  9. Sheba, Son of Bichri. []
  10. II Samuel 20:15-22. []
  11. Judith. []
  12. Judith 13:2-10 []
  13. Esther 9:24-25; cf., “You will therefore do well not to put in execution the letters sent by Haman the son of Hammedatha, because the man himself who did these things has been hanged at the gate of Susa, with all his household. For God, who rules over all things, has speedily inflicted on him the punishment he deserved.” 16:17-18; also, “Three selections from the Book of Esther are used in the Mariology of the early Christian writers and in the Catholic liturgy (Est 2:16-18; C:12, 14-15, 25, 30; and 8:3-8, 16-17).” []
  14. Wiki, citing,  Mount Calvary. Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. III (New York: Robert Appleton Company). 1908. []
  15. John 19:17-30; cf., “And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).” Mark 15:22; “And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).” Matthew 27:33; Luke 23:33. []

The Downward Spiral: 6 Quick Catholic Lessons on the Book of Judges

Listers, the Historical Books are paramount in understanding salvation history. The Historical Books of the Old Testament are Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, and I & II Maccabees. The Historical Books capture the story of how Israel gains the Promise Land through obedience to the covenant but also how they eventually lose the Promise Land through their disobedience. There are seven major dates within the narrative of the Historical Books.

  • c. 1200 BC – Conquest, then Judge’s Period
  • c. 1030 BC – The United Kingdom: Saul, David, & Solomon
  • 931 BC – Divided Kingdom: Northern Kingdom of Israel & Southern Kingdom of Judah
  • 722 BC – Assyrian Exile of the Northern Kingdom
  • 586 BC – First Temple Destroyed as Babylon Conquers the Southern Kingdom
  • 516 BC – The Dedication of the Second Temple
  • 165 BC – The Rededication of the Second Template under the Maccabees

The theological significance of the Historical Books is exemplified by their alternative title: theFormer Prophets. While the Latter Prophets represent the minor and major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, etc.), the Former Prophets mark the beginning of the prophets appearing in the history of Israel. Furthermore, they record a prophetic history insofar as they point toward the coming of Jesus Christ. The internal text of the Historical Books or Former Prophets testifies to the distinction between prophetic history and general history when it utilizes the phrase are not the other works of the King written in the books of… and similar statements denoting that certain historical narratives belong in the records of prophetic history and some do not. A foundational understanding of the theological significance of the Former Prophets as a whole is found in the book of Deuteronomy. The seminal chapter is chapter twenty-eight, which records the blessings of following the covenant and the curses of breaking the covenant. Arguably the entire theme of the Historical Books is the unfolding of Deuteronomy twenty-eight: whether or not Israel is faithful to the covenant.

For a discussion of the first Historical Book, please visit The Conquest: 9 Catholic Lessons from the Book of Joshua. The list contains short discussions on the morality of the military conquest of the Promise Land, the Hexateuch, typological scenes of Mary, and much more.

 

The Book of Judges

 

1. Judges as a Downward Spiral

The Book of Judges should have been a continuation of the success of Joshua. Instead, Israel suffered a series of cycles from fidelity to failure.1

1. Sin—People did what was evil in the sight of the Lord
2. Suffering—God sends suffering, e.g., defeated by enemies, etc.
3. Supplication to God—apologies
4. Salvation—God sends a savior
5. Shalom—a period of peace
6. Repeat (repeated a cycle of seven times)

The cycles actually represent a downward spiral – each cycle being progressively worse than the one before. Note also that the text echoes a threefold repetition: at that time, there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was good in his or her own eyes, i.e., massive confusion and evil; note that it is connected to there being no king. The author or editor wants it to be known that they need a king to keep them faithful to the covenant.2

 

2. The Prophecy of Eve & the Serpent

In Genesis, our first parents suffered a curse due to their fall into sin. One condition of the Fall was that God would place enmity between the woman and the serpent – but the phrase explaining the enmity and what will happen due to that enmity has been a matter of much debate. To wit, should it read he shall crush thy head or she shall crush thy head or even they shall crush thy head? Notice older translation below from the Douay-Rheims Bible:

And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. Douay-Rheims Bible3

Modern Catholic texts read he shall crush your head:

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. RSV-CE

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel. NAB4

Proponents of the prophecy reading and she shall crush often cite the strong biblical typology of women killing men by “crushing” their head. The debate is pertinent to the Book of Judges due to the story of Jael as a type cast of the woman “crushing” the head:

Sisera, in the meantime, had fled on foot to the tent of Jael, wife of the Kenite Heber, since Jabin, king of Hazor, and the family of the Kenite Heber were at peace with one another. Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come in, my lord, come in with me; do not be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a rug.

He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink. I am thirsty.” But she opened a jug of milk for him to drink, and then covered him over. “Stand at the entrance of the tent,” he said to her. “If anyone comes and asks, ‘Is there someone here?’ say, ‘No!'”

Instead Jael, wife of Heber, got a tent peg and took a mallet in her hand. While Sisera was sound asleep, she stealthily approached him and drove the peg through his temple down into the ground, so that he perished in death. Then when Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, I will show you the man you seek.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg through his temple.5

The typological pattern of a woman killing a man via “crushing” their head occurs three times in the Historical Books and five times overall in the Old Testament. The fulfillment of the prophecy comes with Mother Mary standing on Golgotha – the mount Christ was crucified upon named the skull.6 Thus, you have a woman crushing the head of the serpent through the victory of Christ.7

 

3. The Story of Gideon

Chapter seven contains the famous narrative of Gideon leading the army of the Lord. First, Gideon is commanded to tell all the soldiers in the army that if they are afraid they can go home. As a result, twenty-two thousand left and ten thousand remained. Second, the army is led to water and some drank by lapping up the water like dogs and others knelt and drank by cupping the water in their hand. The Lord commands Gideon to only keep those men who lapped the water – 300 soldiers. Third, the army of three hundred win a military victory by holding trumpets in one hand and lamps in the other (no weapons in hand). The principle here is that the victory belonged to the Lord. The victory came through obedience and liturgy.8

In chapter eight, Gideon is asked to rule as King and he declines and says the Lord should rule; however, Gideon uses his clout to ask for the spoils of war – especially gold. He then makes a golden ephod – a priestly garment – and leads the people of God into idolatry. Once again, Israel plays the harlot and there is liturgical confusion.

 

4. Jephthah’s Vow

During the sixth cycle, Jephthah makes a vow to sacrifice to God the first thing that exits his house. His vow is the first of two brash and ill fated vows in the Book of Judges. As the story goes, Jepthah’s daughter is the first thing to exit the house. Holy Scripture does not record whether or not the sacrifice was ever carried out; however, scripture does record his daughter taking a time to mourn she will die a virgin. The pericope of Jephthah’s vow serves as another example of liturgical confusion during the Judges period.9

 

5. Samson & Sight

In chapter thirteen the seventh cycle in Judges contains the Samson narrative. The story of Samson has a subtle motif of “sight.” In chapter fourteen, Samson desires a Philistine woman over any woman in Israel. He tells his parents, “Get her for me, for she pleases me” or literally, “she is good in my eyes.”10 The attitude of Samson serves as a microcosm of the current idolatrous disposition of Israel. The motif of sight characterizes the entire Judges narrative: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”11 The motif continues with Samson’s demise as Samson’s eyes are plucked out after he submits to Delilah the secret to his strength.

 

6. The Concubine Raped, Cut Up, & Mailed

The Israelite discovers his concubine, dead on his doorstep - by Gustave Doré, Circa 1880. Wiki.
The Israelite discovers his concubine, dead on his doorstep – by Gustave Doré, Circa 1880. Wiki.

Judges ends with a narrative that shows exactly how deep Israel has spiraled. In chapter nineteen, a Levite and his concubine (the first clue something is wrong) go to a town within the tribe of Benjamin. Despite being among his kin, no one in the town is hospitable save one old man. The man takes the Levite and the concubine into his home for the night. During the night, the men of the city demand that the Levite priest come out so they can rape him. Instead, the old man offers his virgin daughters and the priest’s concubine. Ultimately, the concubine is thrown out to the men and she is raped throughout the night and dies.

Upon finding her dead outside, the Levite priest cuts the concubine into pieces and sends one piece to each tribe to show the wickedness that has manifested in the tribe of Benjamin. The other tribes turn against the Benjaminites and war against them. The other tribes then make the second ill fated vow of the Book of Judges – they make a covenant not to give their daughters to Benjaminite men in marriage. The error here is that this means the tribe of Benjamin will either die out or have to seek pagan wives. The narrative shows the depravity and confusion found at the bottom of the spiral.

The most telling sign of how far the tribes have fallen is comparing how the book begins to how the book ends. The first verse of the book states, “After the death of Joshua the Israelites consulted the LORD, asking, “Who shall be first among us to attack the Canaanites and to do battle with them?”12 Yet, at the end of the book the tribes of Israel are asking, “who will go with us against the tribe of Benjamin?” The People of God have gone from warring for the Promise Land to civil war – the bottom of the downward spiral of the Book of Judges.

  1. Cycle: See 2:11-17 as an example. []
  2. King David and the Jebusites: Notice in 1:19 the Jebusites are still present in the Promise Land. The Jebusites occupy what will later become Jerusalem. It is King David that will conquer the Jebusites and raise Jerusalem to the center of political and spiritual power in the Kingdom. Interestingly, after a young David slew Goliath, he places Goliath’s head outside of the Jebusite controlled Jerusalem – a foreshadowing of the coming conquest. []
  3. Note on v. 15 from DRB commentary – [15] She shall crush: Ipsa, the woman; so divers of the fathers read this place, conformably to the Latin: others read it ipsum, viz., the seed. The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent’s head. []
  4. Notes on v. 15 NAB – “He will strike . . . at his heel: since the antecedent for he and his is the collective noun offspring, i.e., all the descendants of the woman, a more exact rendering of the sacred writer’s words would be, “They will strike . . . at their heels.” However, later theology saw in this passage more than unending hostility between snakes and men. The serpent was regarded as the devil (⇒ Wisdom 2:24; ⇒ John 8:44; ⇒ Rev 12:9; ⇒ 20:2), whose eventual defeat seems implied in the contrast between head and heel. Because “the Son of God appeared that he might destroy the works of the devil” (⇒ 1 John 3:8), the passage can be understood as the first promise of a Redeemer for fallen mankind. The woman’s offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ.” []
  5. 4:17-22 []
  6. Golgotha: ORIGIN from late Latin, via Greek from an Aramaic form of Hebrew gulgoleth ‘skull’ (see Matt. 27:33). []
  7. Women of the Gen. 3:15 Prophecy: in Judges you have Jael and the woman who drops the millstone on Abimelech in chapter nine; the head of Seba in II Samuel 20:16; it occurs again with Judith and in the book of Esther. []
  8. Gideon: Gideon’s victory shows that victory belongs to the Lord and the glory belongs to him, which will later serve as a comparison to King Saul. It also adds to a motif of proper liturgy. []
  9. Jephthah’s Vow see chapter eleven. []
  10. 14:2-3. []
  11. 21:25. []
  12. NAB. []

7 Prayers for God to Defend & Cleanse His Holy Catholic Church

Madonna Del SoccorsoListers, the gates of hell have not and will not prevail against the Church. As the Catechism states: “Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve; Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Our Lord then declared to him: ‘You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’ Christ, the ‘living Stone’, thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.”1 Moreover, “from the incarnate Word’s descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior’s promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her.”2 Catholics should also remember that the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. The Church teaches, “The Church is one because of her “soul”: ‘It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church’s unity.'”3 When the Church faces both internal and external threats, it is easy to fall into anxiety, gossip, and despair. Remember, however, that these are contrary to virtue – especially the virtue of hope – and that the faithful should hold up the Church and her leaders in prayer. The following prayers were selected due to either their focus on the Church, the leaders of the Church, or the general petition of divine protection against evil.

 


 

 

1. For the Lord to Defend and Cleanse His Church

May your continual pity, O Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church; and, because without you she cannot endure in safety, may she ever be governed by Your bounty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

 

2. Keep the Church Faithful to Christ’s Mission

Heavenly Father, look upon our community of faith which is the Church of your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to witness to his love by loving all our fellow creatures without exception. Under the leadership of the Holy Father and the Bishops keep us faithful to Christ’s mission of calling all men and women to your service so that there may be “one fold and one shepherd.” We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

3. Prayer for the Preservation of the Faith

O my Redeemer, will that dreadful time ever come, when but few Christians shall be left who are inspired by the spirit of faith, that time when Thine anger shall be provoked and Thy protection shall be take away from us? Have our vices and our evil lives irrevocably moved Thy justice to take vengeance, perhaps this very day, upon Thy children? O Thou, the beginning and end of our faith, we conjure Thee, in the bitterness of our contrite and humbled hearts, not to suffer the fair light of faith to be extinguished in us. Remember Thy mercies of old, turn Thine eyes in mercy upon the vineyard planted by Thine own right hand, and watered by the sweat of the Apostles, by the precious blood of countless Martyrs and by the tears of so many sincere penitents, and made fruitful by the prayers of so many Confessors and innocent Virgins. O divine Mediator, look upon those zealous souls who raise their hearts to Thee and pray ceaselessly for the maintenance of that most precious gift of Thine, the true faith. We beseech Thee, O God of justice, to hold back the decree of our rejection, and to turn away Thine eyes from our vices and regard instead the adorable Blood shed upon the Cross, which purchased our salvation and daily intercedes for us upon our altars. Ah, keep us safe in the true Catholic and Roman faith. Let sickness afflict us, vexations waste us, misfortunes overwhelm us! But preserve in us Thy holy faith; for if we are rich with this precious gift, we shall gladly endure every sorrow, and nothing shall ever be able to change our happiness. On the other hand, without this great treasure of faith, our unhappiness would be unspeakable and without limit! O good Jesus, author of our faith, preserve it untainted within us; keep us safe in the bark of Peter, faithful and obedient to his successor and Thy Vicar here on earth, that so the unity of Holy Church may be maintained, holiness fostered, the Holy See protected in freedom, and the Church universal extended to the benefit of souls. O Jesus, author of our faith, humble and convert the enemies of Thy Church; grant true peace and concord to all Christian kings and princes and to all believers; strengthen and preserve us in Thy holy service, so that we may live in Thee and die in Thee. O Jesus, author of our faith, let me live for Thee and die for Thee. Amen.

 

4. Prayer to the Sorrowful Mother for the Church and the Pontiff

Most Holy Virgin and Mother, your soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the passion of your divine Son, and in His glorious resurrection, you were filled with unending joy in His triumph! Obtain for us who call upon you, to be such partakers in the adversities of holy Church and in the sorrows of the Sovereign Pontiff as to be found worthy to rejoice with them in the consolations for which we pray, in the charity and peace of the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

5. Prayer for the Authorities of the Church

We pray Thee, O Almighty and Eternal God,
who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations,
to preserve the works of Thy mercy;
that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world,
may continue, with unchanging faith,
in the confession of Thy name.

We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy,
to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal,
and sanctity of life our chief bishop, N.,
the Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ in the government of His Church;
our own Bishop, (or Archbishop,) N.,
(if he is not consecrated, our Bishop-elect);
all other Bishops, Prelates, and Pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed
to exercise among us the functions of the holy ministry,
and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.

We pray Thee, O God of might, wisdom, and justice,
through whom authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgments decreed, assist,
with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude,
the President of these United States,
that his administration may be conducted in righteousness,
and be eminently useful to Thy people,
over whom he presides,
by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion;
by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy;
and by restraining vice and immorality.
Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress,
and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our role and government; so, that they may tend to the preservation of peace,
the promotion of national happiness,
the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge,
and may perpetuate to us the blessings of equal liberty.

We pray for his Excellency the Governor of this State,
for the members of the Assembly,
for all Judges, Magistrates, and other officers
who are appointed to guard our political welfare;
that they may be enabled,
by Thy powerful protection,
to discharge the duties of their respective stations
with honesty and ability.

We recommend likewise to Thy unbounded mercy
all our brethren and fellow-citizens,
throughout the United States,
that they may be blessed in the knowledge,
and sanctified in the observance of most holy law;
that they may be preserved in union,
and in that peace which the world cannot give;
and, after enjoying the blessings of this life,
be admitted to those which are eternal.

Finally, we pray Thee, O Lord of mercy,
to remember the souls of Thy servants departed
who are gone before us with the sign of faith,
and repose in the sleep of peace:
the souls of our parents, relations, and friends;
of those who, when living, were members of this congregation;
and particularly of such as are lately deceased;
of all benefactors who,by their donations or legacies to this Church,
witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship,
and proved their claim to our grateful
and charitable remembrance.
To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ,
grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment,
light, and everlasting peace,
through the same Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Savior.

Amen.4

 

6. Prayer to the Virgin: Remedy Against Evil Spirits

August Queen of Heaven, sovereign Mistress of the Angels, thou who from the beginning hast received from God the power and the mission to crush the head of Satan, we humbly beseech thee to send thy holy legions, that under thy command and by thy power they may pursue the evil spirits, encounter them on every side, resist their bold attacks, and drive them hence into eternal woe.

Who is like unto God?

O good and tender Mother, thou willest always to be our love and our hope.

O Mother of God, send thy holy Angels to defend us and drive far from us the cruel enemy.

Holy Angels and Archangels, defend us and keep us. Amen.5

 

7. Traditional Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.6

 


 

Related Lists on SPL

  1. CCC § 522, fns. removed. []
  2. CCC § 834, citing, St. Maximus the Confessor, Opuscula theo.:PG 91:137-140. []
  3. CCC § 813; remember that in Latin the soul is the anima – it is that which animates; thus, the Holy Spirit, as the soul of the Church, animates the Church. []
  4. Composed by Archbishop Carroll in 1800; Prayers 1-5 are taken from Catholic Prayers. []
  5. “Indulgenced by St. Pius X on July 8, 1908. Original text from the prayer dictated by Our Lady to Father Cestac on January 13, 1864. It is recommended to learn it by heart.” Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. []
  6. EWTN Translation. []

Boko Haram: 15 Political Cartoons on the Militant Islamists of Nigeria

Listers, the radical Islamists of Boko Haram have terrorized, murdered, and burned their way through Nigeria. The name Boko Haram translates as Western Education is Forbidden. The Islamist militants have “killed more than 5,000 civilians between July 2009 and June 2014, including at least 2,000 in the first half of 2014, in attacks occurring mainly in northeast, north-central and central Nigeria.”1 The group gained global infamy in April 2014 by kidnapping 276 girls from Chibok, Borno.2 In early 2015 – shortly after the 12-person Charlie Hebdo massacre in France – Boko Haram burned down an entire town and slaughtered its estimated 2000 citizens.3 Shortly after what became known as the Baga Massacre, SPL released a graphic asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Africa:

SPL Our Lady of Africa

While the Baga Massacre occurred through January 3rd to the 7th in 2015, the Charlie Hebdo Shooting took place on January 7th. According to reports, the French Islamists “fired up to 50 shots while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Arabic for ‘God is [the] greatest’) and killed 11 people there and then a police officer in the street. They killed a French National Police officer shortly after, and 11 others were injured during the attacks. Five others died and another 11 were wounded in related shootings that followed in the Île-de-France region.”4 Unfortunately, the execution of the twelve French cartoonist overshadowed the Baga Massacre and received the lion’s share of the global media attention. In an attempt to gain awareness, the Vatican, African bishops, and other Catholic groups published articles and graphics focused on the Nigerian victims (along with mourning the Charlie Hebdo victims). One notable graphic was published by Catholic Memes, which uses the style of the Je Suis Charlie graphic to raise awareness for the Nigerian victims:

Je Suis Nigerian

The Charlie Hebdo Shooting and the Bega Massacre started 2015 in a gruesome manner. With countless Catholics and others murdered, homes razed, and parishes destroyed, the people of Nigeria and the surrounding states continue to suffer under Boko Haram. To exemplify the dire situation, in Feburary 2014 a governor of a Nigerian state opined: “Boko Haram are better armed and are better motivated than our own troops. Given the present state of affairs, it is absolutely impossible for us to defeat Boko Haram.”5 Our Lady of Africa, pray for us and the Muslims.

Political Cartoons on Boko Haram

 

Nigerian Cartoon 2

Nigeria Cartoon 1

Nigerian Cartoon 3

Nigerian Cartoon 10

Nigerian Cartoon 5

Nigerian Cartoon 11

Nigerian Cartoon 8

Nigerian Cartoon 12

Nigerian Cartoon 14

Nigerian Cartoon 13

Nigerian Cartoon 15

Nigerian Cartoon 9

Nigerian Cartoon 6

Nigerian Cartoon 4

Nigerian Cartoon 7

  1. Source – See Boko Haram. []
  2. Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping. []
  3. 2015 Baga Massacre. []
  4. Charlie Hebdo Attack. []
  5. Governor’s Statement. []

10 Really Short Prayers to Say During the Day

In his epistle to the Catholics in Thessalonica, St. Paul encouraged them to be in a constant state of prayer. He wrote, ‘Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing…’ Over the melliena since he wrote thats he Church has developed many short prayers that can be said throughout the day.

Listers, in his epistle to the Catholics in Thessalonica, St. Paul encouraged them to be in a constant state of prayer. He wrote, “Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all. Extinguish not the spirit.”1 In her attempt to follow this mandate, Holy Mother Church has over the centuries developed thousands of prayers and devotions for the Faithful to use. Along with the two public prayers of the Church – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass & the Liturgy of the Hours – there are plenty of incredible short invocations that a Catholic can whisper under his or her breath throughout the day. Whether its right before you walk in to give a presentation and you whisper Come Holy Spirit, or right after that car narrowly misses you on the highway and with a sigh of relief you say Domine non sum dignus. The opportunity to pray throughout the day is ever-present, but often times we are not sure what to pray. The following list is a primer of the many short prayers Catholics can say throughout the day for a variety of occasions.2

 

1. Come Holy Spirit

0.63 seconds

Under the heading of Come Holy Spirit, the Catechism of the Catholic Church comments on this short invocation:

“No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action.

If the Spirit should not be worshiped, how can he divinize me through Baptism? If he should be worshiped, should he not be the object of adoration?

The traditional form of petition to the Holy Spirit is to invoke the Father through Christ our Lord to give us the Consoler Spirit.23 Jesus insists on this petition to be made in his name at the very moment when he promises the gift of the Spirit of Truth.24 But the simplest and most direct prayer is also traditional, “Come, Holy Spirit,” and every liturgical tradition has developed it in antiphons and hymns.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

Heavenly King, Consoler Spirit, Spirit of Truth, present everywhere and filling all things, treasure of all good and source of all life, come dwell in us, cleanse and save us, you who are All Good.

The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer. He is the artisan of the living tradition of prayer. To be sure, there are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all. It is in the communion of the Holy Spirit that Christian prayer is prayer in the Church.

Though Come Holy Spirit is woven throughout many Catholic prayers, one of the more popular uses is in the following invocation:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.

R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.3

 

2. Thy will be done.

0.76 seconds

The short prayer thy will be done invokes the prayer our Savior taught us – the Lord’s Prayer. Though saying the invocation softly under your breadth certainly calls to mind the entirely of the Lord’s Prayer, the specific line reads in full – thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.4

 

3. My God and my all.

1.03 seconds

Deus meus et omnia! The short invocation my God and my all has a long history in the Church and currently serves as a motto within the Franciscan Order. The origin of the phrase from a Franciscan perspective comes from a story about St. Francis staying up all night in prayer. The good saint, “lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, and saying, with great devotion and fervor: ‘My God, my God’. And so saying and weeping continually, he abode even until morning, always repeating: ‘My God, my God,’ and nothing else.”5

 

4. Domine non sum dignus.

1.51 seconds

The Domine non sum dignus prayer – Lord, I am not worthy – is a longstanding acknowledgement of one’s unworthiness to receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. While that is certainly its most proper context, it can be used during the week as we ask for grace or experience some unexpected mercy.

 

5. O Heart of Jesus, all for Thee.

1.73 seconds

This short petition to the Heart of Jesus certainly shares similar characteristics to the prayers uttered in the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. While this specific line is not mentioned, any of the lines within the litany could also serve as short invocations. For example:

Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abode of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.

Many find the imagery surrounding the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be stunning and certainly something on which it is worthy to mediate. These short invocations – though part of a larger devotion – can be an excellent way to incorporate the Sacred Heart into your day. Praying Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us is another excellent short invocation.

 

6. O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

1.78 seconds

The short prayer is taken directly from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke. The passage in pertinent part reads:

The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner.6

The phrase is also incorporated into the Jesus PrayerLord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. While worthy of an entire independent conversation, the importance of the Jesus Prayer in Eastern Christianity is analogous to the prominence of the Hail Mary in the West. In Latin, this prayer reads – Domine Iesu Christe, Filius Dei, miserere me peccatorem.

 

7. Sit nomen Dómini benedíctum!

2.00 seconds

Blessed be the Name of the Lord! According to Fisheaters, “this prayer is a reparation for blasphemy. If one hears someone take the Name of the Lord in vain, it is good to say this prayer. The response to this prayer is “ex hoc nunc, et usque in sæculum!” (“from this time forth for evermore!”) or “per ómnia saecula saeculórum” (“unto ages of ages”).”7

 

8. All you holy men and women of God, pray for us.

2.18 seconds

Along with this invocation to all of the saints, any petition to any saint serves as an excellent short prayer. Which saint should you have pray for you? Each saint has a patronage over some area in life. St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron of academics and often prayed to by students and professors alike. St. Ambrose is a patron of students but also of bee keepers and domestic animals. St. Catherina of Siena is the patron against fire, miscarriages, and sexual temptation. Do not make the mistake the protestants do. Saints are not demigods over certain aspects of Creation. Imagine you struggle with alcoholism and you have a friend who did as well but has now been sober for over twenty years. Would you not go to him for prayer? His experience and virtue in this area seasons his prayers to God. He is intimately aware of the struggles you face. So too with the patronages of the saints. Their purview is predicated according to their experiences they had in life. A student does not pray to St. Thomas Aquinas, because the Angelic Doctor is the demigod of academics. He prays to him because his experience and virtue in academics lends him an excellent soul to join the student in prayer before God. Invoking the saints and particularly your personal patron saint throughout the day is an excellent practice.

 

9. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

2.80 seconds

Do not overlook this prayer. Like all commonly used prayers, it is in danger of becoming hackneyed. Invoking the Most Holy Trinity and making the sign of the cross is an excellent way to for a Catholic to bless themselves as they go about their day.

 

10. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

3.61 seconds

A wonderful prayer from the Roman Rituale included in both litanies and in prayers used while saying the Holy Rosary.

 

***********

More on Prayer

  1. I Thess. 5:16-19, DR. []
  2. Timing of Prayers: The prayers are listed in order from shortest to longest, and the timing is certainly not scientific – unless you count sitting at a coffee shop with an iPhone timer scientific. []
  3. Latin: Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium: et tui amoris in eis ignem accende. V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur. R. Et renovabis faciem terrae. Oremus. Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere; et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. []
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”) on the Lord’s Prayer. []
  5. Source: The Story of Deus meus et Omnia in the Franciscan Tradition. []
  6. Luke 18:11-13, DR. []
  7. Fisheaters – A handful of the prayers in this list were adopted from the longer list of short invocations listed on the traditional Catholic site Fisheaters. []

Demons, Beer, & Breastfeeding – The Top 14 Catholic Lists of 2014

Listers, thank you for another incredible year. The popular lists of 2014 are certainly diverse. Prayers for your workday, types of demonic activity, and sacred images of breastfeeding are all among this year’s finalists. The following is the third annual “top” list in the history of St. Peter’s List (“SPL”). To compare the popular trends of 2014 to past years, see Catholic Countdown: The Top 20 Lists of 2012 and Top 10 Most Popular Catholic Lists of 2013.

 

Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer - Amorth L'esorcista, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfGuu2S6DS4.
Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer – Amorth L’esorcista, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfGuu2S6DS4.

14. Fr. Amorth on the 4 Types of Curses

Father Gabriele Amorth claims to have performed over 70,000 exorcisms from 1986 to 2010. The good priest serves as an exorcist for the Diocese of Rome and is the founder and honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists. He has written two books: An Exorcist Tells His Story & An Exorcist: More Stories. And yes, his favorite movie is The Exorcist. In An Exorcist Tells His Story, the good father lays out the four types of curses:

1. Black Magic – Witchcraft – Satanic Rites
2. Curses, Simply
3. The Evil Eye
4. The Spell (aka Malefice or Hex)

The exorcist explains, “Curse is a generic word. It is commonly defined as ‘harming others through demonic intervention’… In my opinion, spells and witchcraft are two different types of curses. I do not claim to give a comprehensive explanation, and I rely solely on my own experience when I defend the following forms of curses.”

 

Ordinary Form, Ad Orientem. - Southern Orders, http://southernorderspage.blogspot.com.
Ordinary Form, Ad Orientem. – Southern Orders, http://southernorderspage.blogspot.com.

13. Facing God: 10 Advantages of Ad Orientem

SPL was delighted that a liturgical list made the top 14 lists of 2014, especially this one exploring the benefits of Ad Orientem. The list explains the basics of ad orientem, lists the benefits of the ancient practice as articulated by a wonderful priest, and gives several “bonus” ad orientem memes. The list explains, “Ad Orientem is Latin for to the east and refers to the direction the priest faces during the mass. Catholic churches are traditionally built facing the East, because, as Cardinal Ratzinger taught, this direction reflects the ‘cosmic sign of the rising sun which symbolizes the universality of God.’ The priest facing the altar is also referred to as Ad Deum, which is Latin for to God… While the ancient liturgies did speak of the priest turning and “facing the people” during certain parts of the mass, the concept of celebrating the entire mass versus populum is arguably an invention of the 1970’s, an invention that stands in direct contradistinction to the Church’s ancient traditions.”

 

Musical Notation Old Book

12. Glory of Rome: 5 Latin Hymns Every Catholic Should Know

Though published in August of 2012, this list of hymns in Latin gained immense popularity in 2014. In contrast, its counterpart article covering the five English hymns every Catholic should know – which was the nineteenth most popular list in 2012 and the ninth in 2013 – failed to make the 2014 list. Moreover, the third installment of SPL’s study of hymns, a collection covering Byzantine hymns, has yet to break into any annual top list. As with the ad orientem list, SPL is delighted to see lists with a liturgical focus rise in popularity, especially one revolving around the importance of Latin.

 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chile.  Figura de la Virgen del Carmen de Chile, en el Templo Votivo de Maipú. La imagen fue donada por la Sra. Rosalía Mujíca de Gutiérrez el 16 de diciembre de 1956.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chile. Figura de la Virgen del Carmen de Chile, en el Templo Votivo de Maipú. La imagen fue donada por la Sra. Rosalía Mujíca de Gutiérrez el 16 de diciembre de 1956.

11. The 6 Things You Should Know about the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

“Modern heretics make a mockery of wearing the Scapular, they decry it as so much trifling nonsense,” says St. Alphonsus. Published during January of 2013, SPL’s list on the Brown Scapular explains the devotion, the marian history behind the practice, and the inseparable relationship between the Brown Scapular and the Holy Rosary. One of the more unique aspects of the Brown Scapular is the promise behind it. The list explains, “On July 16th 1251 the Blessed Mary made this promise to Saint Simon Stock: ‘Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.’ She continues, ‘Wear the Scapular devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life.'” Though incredibly common among most Latin Mass communities, the devotion has plummeted after the Second Vatican Council and is almost non-existent among the Novus Ordo parishes. Since the list is written as a primer to the Brown Scapular, it makes an excellent way to introduce your fellow parishioners or your entire parish to this wonderful devotion.

 

Anónimo Inferno (ca. 1520)
Anónimo Inferno (ca. 1520)

10. The 6 Types of Extraordinary Demonic Activity

The wisdom of Father Amorth finds another place amongst the top lists of 2014. Published in 2011, the list categorizing different types of extraordinary demonic activity was among the first lists to be published on SPL. The good exorcist first distinguishes among ordinary and extraordinary demonic activity. The former is simply temptation, while the latter can fall into any of the six different categories listed below:

1. External Physical Pain Caused by Satan
2. Demonic Possession
3. Diabolical Oppression
4. Diabolic Obsession
5. Diabolic Infestation
6. Diabolical Subjugation, or Dependence

Fr. Amorth’s work strives to remind everyone – especially priests and bishops – that demonic activity is real, and those suffering under its effects should be able to find help within Holy Mother Church. He calls upon the Church to restore the Office of the Exorcist to every diocese, and he reminds the faithful that the best defense against the demonic is the sacramental life.

 

Mary bw banner

9. The 8 Prayers Every Catholic Should Know in Latin

Standing as the twelfth most popular list in 2012 and the seventh in 2013, the collection of fundamental Latin prayers remains a mainstay on SPL. The introduction of the list gives a brief insight into the importance of Latin in the Roman Catholic Church – In 1978 Pope St. John Paul II said, “We exhort you all to lift up high the torch of Latin which is even today a bond of unity among peoples of all nations.” Even Vatican II and Pope John XXIII lauded Latin and asked that it remain the universal language of the Church; however, today the Roman Church has turned its back on Latin and blamed it on the ever-shifting spectre or “spirit” of Vatican II. In support of Latin as the sacred language of the Latin rite, SPL collected 14 quotes on the importance of Latin in the Church, which includes many quotes from Vatican II documents and from post-Vatican II popes. Continuing in this proper understanding of Sacred Tradition, it is only fitting that the listers have a list to help them develop their use of Latin. The collected prayers are all the prayers one would need to pray the Holy Rosary in Latin.

 

Nichols Punch Meme 2

8. When Santa Punched a Heretic in the Face: 13 Memes on St. Nicholas

Published in 2013 and skyrocketing to the most popular list of that year, the SPL list on Santa Claus recounts the story of St. Nicholas slapping the heretic Arius at the Council of Nicea, AD 325. The universal draw of this story is evident in the fact this list is virtually only shared throughout Christmastime, but remains one of the most popular articles on SPL. Along with humorous memes, the list articulates the historic account of “Santa Claus.” According to the introduction, “St. Nicholas was born in AD 270 and became the Bishop of Myra in Lycia (modern day Turkey). He died on December 6, 343 leaving a legacy that would grow into a strong and multifaceted cult. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of ‘Saint Nikolaos.’ Although he is usually referred to as Sinterklaas, he is also known as De Goedheiligman (The Good Holy Man), Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas) or simply as De Sint (The Saint). His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints. The actual feast day of St. Nicholas is December 6th.” Though wrapped in a lighthearted package, the list helps educate the Faithful on the actual narrative of St. Nicholas in order to better participate in the full tradition of Christmastime.

 

St. Josemaria Escriva.
St. Josemaria Escriva.

7. St. Josemaria’s 17 Signs of a Lack of Humility

Published in early of 2013, this list focused on humility rose to the third most popular list of that year. As the introduction implies, the ascension of Pope Francis to the Throne of St. Peter was the main impetus for the article and for the interest surrounding the list. His Holiness Pope Francis has made the Church contemplate the virtue of humility and the qualities of true humility. St. Josemaria’s list is not an easy read. In fact, the list could operate as an examination of conscience in the area of pride. As the list states, humility is a virtue which we all ought to develop to bring ourselves in greater conformity with Christ as we seek “to temper and restrain the mind, lest it tend to high things immoderately.”

 

Credit: La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group, edited.
Credit: La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group, edited.

6. Our Lady of Milk: 20 Images of Mother Mary Nursing

Finishing as the second most popular list of 2013, the collection of images of Mother Mary nursing remains one of the most controversial lists on SPL. Despite the firestorm of opinions – whether over breastfeeding in general or nudity in Sacred Art – SPL’s original rationale for researching Our Lady of Milk remains strong – to support the beauty and importance of breastfeeding. As the 2013 introduction to the list explains: One factor was certainly the growing societal criticism of mothers who breastfed their children in public. The criticism of mothers breastfeeding had grown so loud within Western culture that even Pope Francis felt the need to publicly support mothers breastfeeding in public. The Holy Pontiff stated:

“There are so many children that cry because they are hungry. At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it. I said to her: “Madam, I think the child’s hungry.” “Yes, it’s probably time…,” she replied. “Please give it something to eat!” I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.”

Another factor is certainly North America’s Puritan culture being absolutely inexperienced with images of Mary’s breast. Though common in Latino/Hispanic cultures both in South America and in Europe, the images are quite foreign to many inside the United States.

 

Cardinal Burke visits the Sisters Adorers in Switzerland.
Cardinal Burke visits the Sisters Adorers in Switzerland.

5. Cardinal Burke: 15 Photos of this Wondrous Prince of the Church

As 2014 draws to a close, no other list has generated a more hate-filled, argumentative, and polarizing comment section than our simple photo gallery of His Eminence Cardinal Burke. Originally published in 2012, the list caught on fire toward the latter half of 2014 as rumors fueled expectations that Cardinal Burke would be demoted from Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. In November of 2014, Pope Francis did in fact remove Cardinal Burke from his position and appoint him as the Cardinal Patronus of the Military Order of Malta. The traditionalist communities saw this move as nothing less than the most humiliating thing done to a Cardinal by a Pope in modern times, while the so-called progressive camps openly cheered the move as a clear papal rebuke of Cardinal Burke’s tone and style. As far as SPL goes, His Eminence Cardinal Burke is still held in utmost respect, and we agree with Pope Benedict XVI that good Cardinal is one of the best amongst the College. Hopefully, his new relationship with the Order of Malta will provide him with more time and resources to write and travel.

 

Angelus by Jean-François Millet.
Angelus by Jean-François Millet.

4. The 8 Prayers to Help You through the Workday

Another wonderful list of prayers makes it into the top lists of 2014. Published in 2012 and flying under the radar until 2014, the article submits practical prayers that could be said throughout the workday. SPL author Catherine explains, “Ora et Labora (“Pray and Work” to the layman), the motto of the Benedictine order shouldn’t just be used for those called to the consecrated life, but it needs to be ascribed for all Catholics in every walk of life, especially those in the workforce. I recently entered into the realm of the working mother, and I can honestly say that I have never been so busy in all my life. Being a working mother I have discovered that balancing the various duties I have between work and home can drive a woman to the point of screaming at the top of her lungs “SERENITY NOW!!!!” (If you are a Seinfeld fan you know what I am talking about).” Memorize these prayers or bookmark this list on your work computer, and may the peace of Christ be with you always and everywhere.

 

Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer - Amorth L'esorcista, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfGuu2S6DS4.
Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer – Amorth L’esorcista, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfGuu2S6DS4.

3. The 5 Prayers Recommended by an Exorcist to Combat Evil

Without question, 2014 was a good year for the wisdom of Father Amorth. The third and final list drawn from his experience is a list of prayers that can help a person defend themselves from evil. The prayers are as follows:

1. Prayer Against Malefice from the Greek Ritual
2. Anima Christi
3. Prayer Against Every Evil
4. Prayer for Inner Healing
5. Prayer for Deliverance

In his book An Exorcist Tells His Story, Fr. Amorth stresses that the number one protection from evil is the Sacrament of Confession and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Often times people want esoteric rituals to deliver them from evil, when in reality what they need is to become right with God. Along with regular Confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist, these prayers should be coupled with Our Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

 

The Trappist Beers via Robin Vanspauwen/Bram Weyens
The Trappist Beers via Robin Vanspauwen/Bram Weyens

2. The 10 Authentic Trappist Ales

It is hard not to love beer made by monks. Originally posted in 2011 among the first wave of lists to hit SPL, the list climbed to the tenth most popular list of 2012. In 2013, the list included three new Trappist ales, and the expanded list landed at sixth in 2013. Continuing its growth in popularity, the list comes in as the second most popular list of 2014. The list explains what a Trappist ale is and the three conditions an ale must meet to be accepted into the official Trappist Association:

1. The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by or under control of Trappist monks.
2. The brewery, the choices of brewing, and the commercial orientations must obviously depend on the monastic community.
3. The economic purpose of the brewery must be directed toward assistance and not toward financial profit.

The list then goes on to summarize each individual brewery that has been accepted into the official association and makes Trappist ale.

 

A selection of the front of the St. Benedict's Medal.
A selection of the front of the St. Benedict’s Medal.

1. The 7 Things You Must Know about St. Benedict’s Medal

In 2012, the top list was a collection of original SPL graphics that were designed to fight against the HHS mandate and other government overreaches into the life of the Church. In 2013, the top list was the story of how St. Nicholas punched the heretic Arius right in the face. In 2014, the top list is a primer on the incredible history and power of the St. Benedict’s Medal. Published in 2012, the list started slow but has steadily risen as one of the primary online articles explaining the medal. In 2013, it was the fourth most popular list, and in 2014, it well outpaced the other contenders to become the most popular list on SPL in 2014.

Front
Front

It is difficult to grasp the significance of the medal until one has an understanding of all the lettering. Both the front and back of the medal are rich in symbolism. Regarding the front, the list explains: One side of the medal bears an image of St. Benedict, holding a cross in the right hand and the Holy Rule in the left. On the one side of the image is a cup, on the other a raven, and above the cup and the raven are inscribed the words: Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti (Cross of the Holy Father Benedict). Round the margin of the medal stands the legend Ejus in obitu nostro praesentia muniamus (May we at our death be fortified by his presence). The list further articulates the history of the medal, the entirety of its symbolism, and what evils the medal is used to ward against. St. Benedict, patron against poison and witchcraft, pray for us.

 

Thank you listers for an incredible year. God bless.

Our Lady of Milk: 20 Images of Mother Mary Nursing

Known by many names – Maria de la Leche, Maria Lactans, Nursing Madonna – the art arguably challenges certain modern Western sensibilities.

Listers, our Blessed Mother nursing the infant Christ has a long, rich, and multifaceted history within Sacred Art. Known by many names – Maria de la Leche, Maria Lactans, Nursing Madonna – the art arguably challenges certain modern Western sensibilities.1 More information and images may be found at the La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto Facebook Page and the Fisheaters Maria Lactans Gallery.

 

Maria de le Leche & Maria Lactans

 

"LA VIRGEN DE LA LECHE at the Letania de Maria: Marian Devotees of Rizal Exhibit  at SM City Taytay September 22-28 2013. Photo courtesy of Rodney Torres. Image under the care of Randy Fernandez." - La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group.
“LA VIRGEN DE LA LECHE at the Letania de Maria: Marian Devotees of Rizal Exhibit at SM City Taytay September 22-28 2013. Photo courtesy of Rodney Torres. Image under the care of Randy Fernandez.” – La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group.

 

Parish of St. Sebastian, Lumban, Laguna, Philippines — at San Sebastian Parish Church Lumban Laguna. h/t La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto.
Parish of St. Sebastian, Lumban, Laguna, Philippines — at San Sebastian Parish Church Lumban Laguna. h/t La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto.

 

h/t La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group.
h/t La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group.

 

"AT THE HOSPITAL LOBBY San Juan de Dios Hospital Pasay city, Metro Manila  August 17, 2012" - La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group
“AT THE HOSPITAL LOBBY
San Juan de Dios Hospital
Pasay city, Metro Manila
August 17, 2012″ – La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group

 

"AT THE HOSPITAL LOBBY San Juan de Dios Hospital Pasay city, Metro Manila  August 17, 2012" - La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group
“AT THE HOSPITAL LOBBY
San Juan de Dios Hospital
Pasay city, Metro Manila
August 17, 2012″ – La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group

 

"6th Veritas Grand Marian Exhibit SM Mall of Asia, Pasay city November 7-29, 2011" - La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group.
“6th Veritas Grand Marian Exhibit SM Mall of Asia, Pasay city November 7-29, 2011” – La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group.

 

Artist: Circle of Gil de Siloe   Title: Virgin of the Milk (Virgen de la leche)   Date:  c. 1500   Medium: Polychromed wood  h/t The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Artist: Circle of Gil de Siloe
Title: Virgin of the Milk (Virgen de la leche)
Date: c. 1500
Medium: Polychromed wood
h/t The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

 

Friesach, Austria, c. 1230.
Friesach, Austria, c. 1230.

 

"Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Leonard and Peter," c. 1270.
“Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Leonard and Peter,” c. 1270.

 

Maria Lactans, France late 14th century.
Maria Lactans, France late 14th century.

 

Taddeo di Bartolo, c. 1395.
Taddeo di Bartolo, c. 1395.

 

Brussel Hours, see http://www.faksimile.de/international/editions/productdetail.php?we_objectID=358.
Brussel Hours, see http://www.faksimile.de/international/editions/productdetail.php?we_objectID=358.

 

"The Virgin and Child before a Firescreen," about 1440, Follower of Robert Campin. See http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/follower-of-robert-campin-the-virgin-and-child-before-a-firescreen.
“The Virgin and Child before a Firescreen,” about 1440, Follower of Robert Campin. See http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/follower-of-robert-campin-the-virgin-and-child-before-a-firescreen.

 

Mary and Child - detail by Gerard David, 1490
Mary and Child – detail by Gerard David, 1490

 

Maria Lactans, Melchior Binder,  Bernhard-Maria-Altar (Lactatio-Altar), 1608.
Maria Lactans, Melchior Binder, Bernhard-Maria-Altar (Lactatio-Altar), 1608. via Wiki-Commons, Andreas Praefcke

 

Holy Family. 1714. oil on panel. 36 × 29 cm. Amsterdam, Museum Amstelkring.
Holy Family. 1714. oil on panel. 36 × 29 cm. Amsterdam, Museum Amstelkring.

 

Amesbury Psalter, 13th c., h/t Fisheaters.com
Amesbury Psalter, 13th c., h/t Fisheaters.com

 

Nuestra Señora de Leche y Buen Parto (Our Lady of Milk and Good Birth). This statue, ca. A.D. 1600-1620, is kept in the shrine devoted to Nuestra Señora de Leche y Buen Parto in St. Augustine, Florida -- the first Marian shrine in the United States. h/t Fisheaters.com
Nuestra Señora de Leche y Buen Parto (Our Lady of Milk and Good Birth). This statue, ca. A.D. 1600-1620, is kept in the shrine devoted to Nuestra Señora de Leche y Buen Parto in St. Augustine, Florida — the first Marian shrine in the United States. h/t Fisheaters.com

 

The Holy Family, the Workshop of Rembrandt, 1608. h/t Fisheaters.com
The Holy Family, the Workshop of Rembrandt, 1608. h/t Fisheaters.com

 

"The Miraculous Lactation of St. Bernard." This painting depicts the spiritual nourishing of St. Bernard by the milk of Our Lady, based on this legendary mystical experience: Bernard prayed before a statue of the Madonna, asking her, "Show yourself a mother" ("Monstra te esse Matrem"). The statue came to life and and squirted milk from the breast onto the Saint's lips. Artist: Alonso Cano, A.D. 1650 h/t Fisheasters.com
“The Miraculous Lactation of St. Bernard.” This painting depicts the spiritual nourishing of St. Bernard by the milk of Our Lady, based on this legendary mystical experience: Bernard prayed before a statue of the Madonna, asking her, “Show yourself a mother” (“Monstra te esse Matrem”). The statue came to life and and squirted milk from the breast onto the Saint’s lips. Artist: Alonso Cano, A.D. 1650 h/t Fisheasters.com 

  1. Sexualization & Puritanism: The Maria Lactans art arguably causes controversy due to two major themes in the Western world. The first is the modern notion or obsession of sexuality, which views the body as a means to the end of gratification. The second is puritanism, which categorically eschews nudity. Both pivot on the same error – the inability to view the human body outside the scope of sexual gratification. A woman’s breast is a prime example. The modern notion of the breast as a source of sexual gratification alone has reached a point that our culture esteems the perfect breast to be the fake breast. In contradistinction, the use of Mary’s breast in Maria Lactans stands as a sign of life, nourishment, and maternity. Particularly with Mother Mary, her life-giving milk nourished our Savior, who in turn would give his life-giving blood over for all humanity. []

Angelic Warfare Confraternity: 37 Questions on this Sacred Pact

The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is supernatural brotherhood or fellowship of men and women bound to one another in love and dedicated to pursuing and promoting chastity together under the powerful patronage St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

1. What is a Confraternity?

A Confraternity is a supernatural brotherhood or fellowship of men and women who make a sacred pact to pursue some good together in the Church. A Confraternity is a bond of love serving some good and holy purpose, and reflecting the communion of the Holy Trinity.

 

2. Why make such a pact?

Because some goods are easier to pursue together rather than alone.

 

3. Does the Church recognize such a pact and brotherhood?

Yes, a Confraternity is an organization officially recognized by the Church.

 

4. Who is in on the pact?

Both heaven and earth are in on it. The Church has the authority to establish special, supernatural bonds between people on earth and Saints in heaven (traditionally known as “patronage”).

 

5. What is the Angelic Warfare Confraternity?

The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is supernatural brotherhood or fellowship of men and women bound to one another in love and dedicated to pursuing and promoting chastity together under the powerful patronage St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

6. Is St. Thomas Aquinas a powerful patron for those who pursue chastity?

Yes. He is an extremely powerful patron for those seeking to live a chaste life.

 

7. Why is St. Thomas Aquinas so powerful when it comes to pursuing chastity?

St. Thomas Aquinas is powerful because in his own life he received a special grace of chastity and purity and is ready now in heaven to share it with others. St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1226 as the youngest son of a noble family in Italy. His parents wanted him to become a Benedictine so that he might one day secure the prestigious title of abbot. But at the age of eighteen he instead joined the Dominicans – a group that at the time was new and had no social prestige. His parents so vehemently opposed his decision to become a Dominican that they had him arrested and jailed in one of the family castles. They would not release him until he relented, and many times attempted to persuade him to change his mind. For a full year he refused to relent, and instead quietly studied the bible. Finally, after becoming tired of waiting, the brothers of St. Thomas conceived one last plan. They were certain that physical temptation would drive him to break his vow of chastity, after which he would surely abandon his religious vocation.

So one night, the brothers introduced a scantily clad prostitute into the room where St. Thomas was being held. The plan did not work as intended. Immediately, St. Thomas snatched a burning brand from the hearth, drove the woman out of the room, slammed the door behind her, and emblazoned the sign of the cross on the door with the red-hot brand. He then fell to his knees with tears of thanksgiving and prayed to be preserved in his chastity, purity, and intention to live the religious life.

According to the records of his canonization, Thomas at once fell into a mystical sleep and had a vision. Two angels came to him from heaven and bound a cord around his waist, saying, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy.” In the records of his canonization, many different witnesses who knew St. Thomas at different points in his life remarked about his evidently high degree of purity and chastity. The angels’ gift preserved St. Thomas from sexual temptation and bestowed upon him an enduring purity that ennobled all his thoughts and actions. Pope Pius XI wrote: “If St. Thomas had not been victorious when his chastity was in peril, it is very probable that the Church would never have had her Angelic Doctor.”

Over his lifetime, St. Thomas’s conduct revealed that he had indeed received a special grace of chastity and purity – a grace that he is now ready to share with others through the communion of saints.

 

8. Why is this Confraternity called the “Angelic Warfare”?

It is called by this title in honor of St. Thomas being girded by the angels. But the name is also appropriate because the pursuit of chastity is often a fierce struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world, the flesh, and the devil all work together to destroy chastity. The Holy Spirit, the good angels, and the Confraternity work together to build up chastity.

 

9. When was the Confraternity founded?

The Confraternity began to grow in different parts of Europe in the 1400′s, and was officially founded for the whole Church in 1727 by Pope Benedict XII. It is one of the ancient Confraternities of the Dominican Order.

 

Banner from the AWC website.
Banner from the AWC website.

 

10. Have any Saints or Blesseds belonged to this Confraternity?

Various Saints and Blesseds, such as St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Columba Rieti and Blessed Stephana Quinzan (who actively promoted the Confraternity among women), have belonged to this Confraternity.

 

11. In this warfare, what are the three essential practices of the Confraternity?

The three essential practices are:

i. Enrollment and Registration. In the enrollment ceremony, a Dominican priest confers the blessing upon the cord and medal of St. Thomas Aquinas and the person who will wear it. The name of the person enrolled and place of the enrollment ceremony goes into the official Register.

ii. Wearing either the blessed cord of St. Thomas or blessed medal of St. Thomas (or both) as continuously as one reasonably can for the rest of one’s life.

iii. Daily prayers for purity for oneself and all the members of the Confraternity. The daily prayers consist of two special prayers for chastity and fifteen Hail Mary’s.

 

12. What is the cord of St. Thomas?

The cord of St. Thomas is a thin cord with fifteen knots in it and blessed by a Dominican priest. It is worn around the waist underneath one’s clothing.

 

13. Is there also a medal of St. Thomas?

Yes, the medal has on one side it has the image of St. Thomas being girded by the angels, and on the other side it has the image of Our Lady of the Rosary. It too is blessed by a Dominican priest. It is worn like any other medal.

 

14. Can only a Dominican priest bless the cord and medal of St. Thomas?

The Church has reserved the blessing of the cord and medal of St. Thomas to the Dominican Order. Therefore, only Dominican priests, or priests with authorization from the Director of the Confraternity, can give this blessing.

 

15. How can a non-Dominican priest obtain authorization to confer the blessing of the cord and medal of St. Thomas?

By contacting the Director of the Confraternity: director@angelicwarfare.org

 

16. Do members commit to wearing the blessed cord or medal of St. Thomas continuously for the rest of their life?

Yes, all Confraternity members wear the blessed cord or medal as continuously as reasonably possible for the rest of their lives. The cord or medal or both are also worn while bathing and sleeping.

 

17. Can I ever take off the cord or medal?

Confraternity members use their common sense and prudence. Sometimes, there are circumstances that require one to remove the cord or medal, e.g. during surgery, during athletic events, perhaps during intimate moments in marriage, etc.. When such circumstances pass, the members put the cord or medal back on. Experience reveals the advantages of wearing the blessed cord or medal as continuously as possible.

 

18. What is so special about the blessed cord and medal of St. Thomas?

The blessing of a cord and medal of St. Thomas is special because it is, in effect, a blessing of one’s human sexuality.

 

19. Please explain how the Church can bless my human sexuality.

One’s human sexuality consists of all those natural and personal instincts, desires, and emotions that tend toward love, relationships, marriage, and the procreation and education of children. This intimate structure within each of us is naturally a source of joy and new life for human beings. But on account of the wounds of original sin there is also a disturbance in our human sexuality. We are weak, vulnerable to temptation, and are prone to act on sexual impulses outside of the right time and place rather than to act in accord with wisdom and seek the higher good. When the priest blesses the cord and medal of St. Thomas, the priest says: “may all who wear these cords and medals be purified from all uncleanness of mind and body” and later on: “May the Lord gird you with the cincture of purity and by the merits of St. Thomas extinguish within you every evil desire…” Through the priest’s words of blessing, the Spirit of Christ comes not only upon the cord and medal, but also to the person who will wear them. The Spirit comes to address the wounds of original sin as they afflict the man or woman’s human sexuality. The Spirit comes to move the whole person down the often long road of healing, liberation, and growth in chastity.

 

20. What do you mean by the long road of healing, liberation, and growth in chastity?

Chastity, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is a quality of one’s being. It is an abiding orderliness among all of one’s sexual instincts, emotions, thoughts, and aims. As a result of having this abiding inner orderliness, one’s sexual impulses do not control the person but the person controls his or her sexual impulses with ease and joy. The chaste person is thus free to live out his or her sexuality in a way that leads to true happiness and avoids counterfeit happiness. Chastity comes from grace and the practice of self-control. Without it, people tend to fall into sexual sin and contract still further physical, psychological, and spiritual wounds. These wounds conspire to make self-control still harder. Chastity is often, therefore, something one arrives at over time. There is a road to chastity. It can be a hard road with many falls and frequent repentance. But it is a road that gradually frees the person from enslavement to sexual impulses and leads a man or woman to a happy self-mastery.

 

21. Does joining the Confraternity bring healing for the wounds of past sexual sin?

Yes, but not without one’s cooperation. The Holy Spirit moves in the Confraternity to heal members of the wounds of their sexual sins. One of the daily prayers says: “if I have ever imagined or felt anything that can stain my chastity and purity, blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers, that I may advance with a pure heart…” This is a prayer for inner healing, and so members daily pray for the healing of wounds of sexual sin. Experience has proven that this prayer works, but not in a way that one might imagine at first hearing it. Rather than all the memories and wounds of past sin simply vanishing, the Holy Spirit gradually works a deep and very personal process of inner renewal and renovation of the heart. There is such a thing as a new innocence.

 

22. What are the two special prayers for chastity that members say daily?

The Prayer to St. Thomas for Purity

Chosen lily of innocence, pure St. Thomas,
who kept chaste the robe of baptism
and became an angel in the flesh after being girded by two angels,
I implore you to commend me to Jesus, the Spotless Lamb,
and to Mary, the Queen of Virgins.
Gentle protector of my purity, ask them that I,
who wear the holy sign of your victory over the flesh,
may also share your purity,
and after imitating you on earth
may at last come to be crowned with you among the angels. Amen.

The Prayer of St. Thomas for Purity

Dear Jesus,I know that every perfect gift,
and especially that of chastity,
depends on the power of Your providence.
Without You a mere creature can do nothing.
Therefore, I beg You to defend by Your grace
the chastity and purity of my body and soul.
And if I have ever sensed or imagined anything
that could stain my chastity and purity,
blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers,
that I may advance with a pure heart in Your love and service,
offering myself on the most pure altar of Your divinity
all the days of my life. Amen.

 

23. What other prayers do Confraternity members say on a daily basis?

In honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, they say fifteen Hail Mary’s for chastity for themselves and all the members of the Confraternity.

 

24. If I already say a Rosary every day, then do I have to say fifteen Hail Mary’s in addition to my Rosary?

No. It is sufficient to dedicate fifteen of the Hail Mary’s of the Rosary as being “for the Confraternity.” However, to say fifteen additional Hail Mary’s with attention and fervor would be a great work of love for other members of the Confraternity, and would add to the graces that others receive.

 

25. Are there any indulgences available for those who join?

The Popes have heaped many indulgences upon the Confraternity as a sign that they want people to join. All the members are eligible to receive a plenary indulgence:

▪ Once on the day of enrollment

▪ Every year on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, St. Thomas (Jan. 28), the Annunciation (March 25), the Assumption of the B.V.M. (Aug. 15), and All Saints Day (Nov. 1)

Members gain a plenary indulgence on these days given the following four conditions:

i. Receive Holy Communion on that day with the intention of gaining the indulgence

ii. Go to the Sacrament of Penance within eight days before or after that day

iii. Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Apostle’s Creed for the intentions of the Holy Father

iv. Renew privately the intention to live according to the practices and Statute of the Confraternity.

Are the enrollment ceremony and blessing powerful?

The blessing is supernatural dynamite. Many people who go through ceremony and wear the blessed cord or medal testify to experiencing great relief from temptations and greater strength in resisting temptations. As St. Paul says, “the kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20).

 

26. Are there other supernatural effects of enrollment in the Confraternity?

St. Thomas Aquinas becomes an official personal patron of each Confraternity member, the treasure chest of graces merited by the Dominican Order is opened up to all in the Confraternity to draw upon, and the prayers of thousands of other members of the Confraternity come to the aid of all the other members every day. People often say they no longer feel isolated in the pursuit of chastity but tied to others in the same pursuit. They often say they feel stronger and more equipped for the struggle.

 

27. Have people’s lives been transformed by joining the Confraternity?

Yes. Many people testify to a noticeable and sometimes great difference in their lives after joining.

 

28. Do some people still fall into sins against chastity after joining the Confraternity?

Yes. Some people who join the Confraternity still fall into sexual sin. But even those who fall again still feel better off for having joined. The Confraternity is not a magic wand. The point of joining is not to find an instant solution to sin, but to find help in growing in chastity over time. And large numbers of people find that help in the Confraternity.

 

Banner from the AWC website.
Banner from the AWC website.

 

29. If I join the Confraternity and then fall into sins of impurity, is the sin worse than if I had never joined?

No. There is no additional gravity added to sexual sin because one is a member of the Confraternity. Members make no promise to succeed at chastity. They promise only to strive for chastity. The point of the Confraternity is to assist members in their striving rather than to shame them for their failures.

 

30. As a member am I required to tell the priest in Confession that I belong to the Confraternity?

No. Since membership adds no gravity to sins committed, it is irrelevant to confession.

 

31. Do the three essential practices of the Confraternity (enrollment, wearing the cord or medal, and daily prayers) bind under pain of sin? If I join, and fail to say my prayers one day, do I sin?

No. The Church has decreed that in no Confraternity does a person commit sin by failing to observe any of its practices. Members should wear the cord or medal and say the daily prayers more out of love for one another than out of fear of sin.

 

32. May people who have always led a chaste life join the Confraternity?

Yes. The Confraternity is not just for those who have fallen into sexual sin or who struggle with it. Many people who have led a basically chaste life join the Confraternity in order to preserve their chastity in the future and to be of help to others through prayer.

 

33. If I am not struggling with chastity but know someone else who is, can I join the Confraternity and give the grace to the person who is struggling?

One can join the Confraternity and petition the Lord to give the graces to someone else outside the Confraternity, and our Lord is known to hear such generous prayers when they are made with humility, confidence, and perseverance. Through special petitions, another person might thus benefit from one’s membership, but not in the same way as if he or she were a full member who intentionally seeks chastity and wears the blessed cord or medal.

 

34. May Catholics of the Eastern rites join the Confraternity?

Yes.

 

35. May Christians who are not Catholics join the Confraternity?

Since the Confraternity is an officially established Public Association of the Faithful, and members are deputed by the Church for the promotion of chastity, membership in the Confraternity is limited to those who are Baptized, Confirmed, and in full communion with the Catholic Church. Acknowledging that we share a great deal with our separated brothers and sisters in Christ, those Christians who are not Catholics are welcome to join us in receiving the blessing, wearing the blessed cord and medal, and saying the daily prayers. But their names cannot be inscribed in the Register as official members.

 

36. What is the minimum age for enrollment? Can a child be enrolled?

Membership in the Confraternity requires that one make a free and lifelong commitment to wearing the blessed cord and medal of St. Thomas. The law of the Church does not recognize those under seven years of age as being able to make such a free choice. Furthermore, membership presupposes the grace of Confirmation. Since the current practice of the Church generally (though not universally) is to Confirm people who are in the eighth grade and older, most Catholics younger than high school students are not eligible to be enrolled. For those Catholics who are in junior high and already Confirmed, the question remains of how maturely the person grasps the Church’s teaching on sexuality and chastity.

 

37. What if a child in junior high or younger shows signs of interest and desire in joining the Confraternity?

For such children, it is good for the child to wear a blessed medal of St. Thomas, to learn the daily prayers, and to look forward to full enrollment in the Confraternity at a more mature age. Such a time of waiting can be looked upon as a period of formation and preparation for membership as the child learns the meaning of human sexuality and chastity.

 

If you are interested in enrolling in the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, please visit How do I Enroll?  and browse the Angelic Warfare Confraternity for resources and prayers. Special thanks to Father James Brent, O.P. for allowing us to reprint this material and promote such a worthy cause.

8 Odes in Honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God

At your Assumption, O Mother of God, the hosts of Angels in fear and joy covered your body with hallowed wings, that had been spacious enough to receive God.

Listers, while the West celebrates the Feast of Our Lady, the Assumption, our brethren in the East celebrate with us under a different name. Known in the Byzantine theological and liturgical tradition as the Dormition (in Greek, the kimesis, or “falling asleep”), this feast commemorates the death of the Mother of God, as well as her subsequent Assumption into heaven after three days. The feast itself, which originated in the East, likewise entered into the Latin West as the Dormitio B. Mariae Virginis, where after several centuries it assumed its own unique character as a celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

The feast of the Dormition, being one of the more solemn Marian feasts in the Byzantine liturgical calendar on account of its antiquity, is preceded by a period of fasting and spiritual preparation known as the “Dormition Fast.” Of the four annual fasts in the Byzantine tradition, it is the strictest, except of course the Great Fast during Lent. Lasting for fourteen days, it begins with the feast of the Procession of the Cross on the 1st of August, and ends at sundown on the 14th, when the feast of the Dormition officially commences.

The Synaxarion, the martyrology of the Byzantine churches, relates that the dormition and the assumption of Our Lady were announced by an Angel to the Blessed Mother. According to tradition in the East, this final stage of Our Lady’s earthly life took place in Jerusalem, witnessed by all but one of the Apostles, who had been gathered together by Divine power. At the moment decreed beforehand by God, the all-holy Virgin, surrounded by her children committed her spirit into the hands of her Divine Son. A funeral procession followed to Gethsemane, where a tomb had been prepared for her, and with hymns and chants she was solemnly interred in her place of repose.

The Apostle Thomas, however, was making his way from India at the time of her burial. Being greatly saddened at his late arrival, he began to be distressed. The rest of the Apostles decided to open the tomb of the Virgin, in order that he might be able to honor her all-blameless body. But upon opening the tomb, they discovered that she had been taken into heaven, leaving the burial shroud remaining. Throughout the whole tomb, a garden of beautiful and fragrant flowers had bloomed, as a celebration of the miracle of Our Lady’s Assumption. To this day, the tomb of the Virgin remains in the garden of Gethsemane, enclosed in the shrine dedicated to her Dormition.

In honor of this solemn feast, this list will include eight odes in honor of Our Lady’s Dormition, from the Canon sung during Matins and composed by St. John Damascene:

 

First Ode

I will open my mouth, and it will be filled with the Spirit; and I will utter a word for the Queen and Mother: I will be seen keeping glad festival,and rejoicing, I will hymn her falling asleep.

The divine tabernacles of heaven fittingly received you as a living heaven, O Virgin all-pure; and as a blameless bride, you stand radiantly adorned before your King and God. [1]

 

Third Ode

O marvelous wonder, to see the living heaven of the King universal going down below the hollows of the earth. How wondrous are Your works: glory to Your power, O Lord!

At your Assumption, O Mother of God, the hosts of Angels in fear and joy covered your body with hallowed wings, that had been spacious enough to receive God. 

 

Fourth Ode

If her Fruit, who is incomprehensible–because of Whom, she was called ‘Heaven, willingly underwent burial as a mortal–how will she refuse burial, who bore him without wedlock? 

 

Fifth Ode

The universe was amazed at your glory divine: for you, O Virgin who knew not wedlock, have passed over from earth to mansions eternal and to life without end, as you give salvation as the prize to all who sing your praise.

Let the trumpets of the theologians ring out today, and let the mortal tongue now sound praises with many voices. Let the air re-echo, shining with infinite light. Let angels honor with hymns the Dormition of the Virgin.

 

Sixth Ode

As we celebrate this divine and honored feast of the Mother of God, come O godly-minded people, let us clap our hands as we glorify God Who was born of her.

 

Seventh Ode

The most sacred Assumption of Your hallowed and undefiled Mother has gathered the celestial ranks of the Powers on high to rejoice together with those on earth who sing to You: ‘O God, blessed are You!’

 

Eighth Ode

He, when taking flesh made his dwelling marvelously in your immaculate womb, Himself received your all-holy spirit and, as a dutiful Son, gave it rest with Himself. And so, we praise you, O Virgin, and exalt you above all to all the ages.

 

Ninth Ode

The angelic Powers were amazed as they looked down on Zion, upon their own Master bearing in His hands the soul of a woman; for as befitted a Son, he was saying to the one who gave him birth without stain:

‘Come, O honored Lady: be glorified with your Son and God.’

The choir of the Apostles shrouded your body, which had received God, as they looked with awe and addressed you with clear voice: ‘As you depart into the heavenly bridal chambers to your Son, may you ever save your inheritance.’

 

[1] All quotes are taken from Ephrem Lash’s copyrighted translation of the Menaion (with slight modifications), unless otherwise noted. Also, the numbering of the odes – with the missing “second ode” – is intentionally and in accordance with the liturgical tradition.

8 Notable Videos from His Eminence Cardinal Burke

“Our observance of liturgical law is a fundamental expression of love of Christ and of the Church.” – Cardinal Burke, Divine Love Made Flesh

Cardinal Burke on SPL

Cardinal Burke: 10 Photos of this Wondrous Prince of the Church
Cardinal Burke at Notre-Dame de Fontgombault: 21 Photos
The Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration: 8 Teachings from Cardinal Burke

 

VIDEOS

1. Call to Martyrdom by Cardinal Burke

2-22-13

 

2. At Clear Creek Monastery

12-14-12

His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke Visits Clear Creek Monastery in the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma and celebrates Mass.

 

3. Cardinal Burke on LCWR

8-9-12

On The World Over with Raymond Arroyo, Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (Vatican Supreme Court), spoke to the controversy surrounding the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Vatican’s intervention with LCWR. He further discussed the conference’s right to exist.

 

4. The Call of Beauty

7-6-12

Five years after Pope Benedict liberalized the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, now known as the extraordinary form, U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke reflects on its significance for the universal church.

 

5. On neglected traditions post-Vatican II

6-25-12

Today’s “First Take: Vatican” hears from the former archbishop of St. Louis, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, on the revival of traditional devotions.

 

6. On the SSPX

6-15-12

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, talked to CNS about the ongoing reconciliation talks with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.

 

7. Cardinal Burke’s Book Recommendations

7-28-11

Cardinal Burke speaks on books at Loome Booksellers, part II may be found here.

 

8. On Abortion and Voting

10-27-10

The video is a selection of Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke in a 25 minute interview on October 20, 2010 discussing the obligations of Catholics when voting. The full video is available here.

6 Things You Should Know about the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

“The Scapular is a practice of piety which by its very simplicity is suited to everyone, and has spread widely among the faithful of Christ to their spiritual profit.” – Pope Pius XII

Listers, have you ever contemplated where the title of the Virgin Mary, “Our Lady of Mt Carmel” came from? Do you find it odd that some traditional Roman Catholics wear their Brown Scapular 24/7? Hopefully this list will help address some of the questions concerning devotion to the Brown Scapular.

“If I should say anything that is not in conformity with what is held by the Holy Roman Catholic Church, it will be through ignorance and not through malice.”
– St Teresa of Avila

A 1996 doctrinal statement approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments states that “Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular. Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.”

 

1. St Simon Stock

Saint Simon Stock was born in England and was a Prior General of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel who had their origins in Palenstine. Some of the brothers relocated to Europe in the early 13th century and became a mendicant order (mendicants live solely on alms). There are various controversies surrounding the vision of Our Lady that St. Simon had, one account goes as follows:

“St. Simon was an Englishman, a man of great holiness and devotion, who always in his prayers asked the Virgin to favour his Order with some singular privilege. The Virgin appeared to him holding the Scapular in her hand saying, ‘This is for you and yours a privilege; the one who dies in it will be saved.'”1

This goes without saying, the original context of this promise was for those who preserved in their vocation as Carmelites. In the 16th century, the Carmelites began distributing Brown Scapulars to the laity and became a very popular sacramental.

 

2. Who is Our Lady of Mt Carmel?

Simply put, Our Lady of Mt Carmel is the Virgin Mary. It was a title bestowed upon Her because She is the patroness of the Carmelite order. The first Carmelites lived on Mt Carmel in the Holy Land and were hermits in the 12th century. They built a chapel in honour of The Virgin and entitled it: “Our Lady of the Place”.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, OCD, a revered authority on Carmelite spirituality, wrote that devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means:

“Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary’s soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalcuable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme. […] Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, ‘Queen and Splendor of Carmel’.”

 

3. Promises of wearing the Scapular

On July 16th 1251 the Blessed Mary made this promise to Saint Simon Stock: “Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” She continues, “Wear the Scapular devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life.” Partial indulgence granted by Pope Benedict XV to those who devoutly kiss their scapular.

Amongst the myriad of miracles attributed to the Brown Scapular, there are a few more famous occurrences:

In May 1957, in Westenboden, Germany, an entire row of houses had caught fire. The inhabitants of one of the houses fixed a scapular to the front door of their home. Five hours later, 22 homes on the block had burnt to the ground. Yet amidst the destruction, the home with the scapular attached to it stood unharmed. This miracle was witnessed by hundreds of people.

Three holy men devoted to the scapular, Pope Bl. Gregory X, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St. John Bosco, all died wearing the scapular. When their graves were opened years later, the bodies and vestments had decayed but their scapulars remained perfectly intact.

In November of 1955, a plane carrying 27 passengers crashed in Guatemala. All the passengers died except for one young girl. She related that when the plane was going down, she clutched her scapular and cried out to Our Lady for help. She was burnt and her clothes were tattered and burnt as well, but the girl was overall unharmed and her scapular free from any burns.2

 

4. The Rosary and the Scapular Are Inseparable

In order to obtain the graces and promises recieved from wearing the Scapular, one should wear it devoutly. In other words, under the usual conditions, i.e. state of grace (Go to Confession regularly!!), be properly invested/enrolled by a Catholic priest, pray either the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary or 5 decades of the Most Holy Rosary daily. Novenas to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel are optional but highly recommended to show the Mater Dei that we Her most lowly and undeserving servants have faith in Her most powerful protection and intercession.

 

5. Saintly Quotes on Brown Scapular

Pope Pius XII stated:
“Let it [the Brown Scapular] be your sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which We are particularly urging in these perilous times.”

Pope Pius XII went so far as to say:
“The Scapular is a practice of piety which by its very simplicity is suited to everyone, and has spread widely among the faithful of Christ to their spiritual profit.”

In our own times, Pope Paul VI said:
“Let the faithful hold in high esteem the practices and devotions to the Blessed Virgin … the Rosary and the Scapular of Carmel” and in another place referred to the Scapular as that which is “so highly recommended by our illustrious predecessors.”

St. Alphonsus tell us:
“Modern heretics make a mockery of wearing the Scapular, they decry it as so much trifling nonsense.”

 

6. Our Lady: Prayers, Lists, and More

1. Prayer to Our Lady of Mount. Carmel
2. Litany of Intercession to Our Lady of Mount Carmel
2. Investiture of the Brown Scapular in English and Latin
3. Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima: 4 Things You Must Know About Our Lady of Fatima
4. Virgo Potens: 8 Quotes by Roman Pontiffs on the Holy Rosary

Many more lists of quotes and prayers may be found via the SPL threads of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, and the Rosary. An exhaustive list of the articles by John Henry may be found here including the very popular Domestic Church: 7 Steps to a Proper Catholic Home and the controversial All Human Creatures are Subject to the Pope.

  1. Medieval Devotion to Mary among the Carmelites, Fr Carroll, O.Carmel []
  2. Stories were taken from Garment of Grace by the Slaves of the Immaculata. Vienna , OH; 1991 []

Is It Not Unjust to Punish Us for the Sins of Adam and Eve? – 25 Questions on Our First Parents

“This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our soul.”

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. All the lists taken from the Baltimore Catechism may be found here. The following is part II of how SPL has broken down the Baltimore Catechism’s lesson on our first parents. The first part can be found at Could the Soul “Evolve” from Inferior Animals? – 16 Questions on Adam and Eve.

 

Baltimore Catechism No. 3 – Lesson 5

LESSON FIFTH
On our First Parents and the Fall – Part II

 

Q. 249. Did Adam and Eve remain faithful to God?

A. Adam and Eve did not remain faithful to God, but broke His command by eating the forbidden fruit.

 

Q. 250. Who was the first to disobey God?

A. Eve was the first to disobey God, and she induced Adam to do likewise.

 

Q. 251. How was Eve tempted to sin?

A. Eve was tempted to sin by the devil, who came in the form of a serpent and persuaded her to break God’s command.

 

Q. 252. Which were the chief causes that led Eve into sin?

A. The chief causes that led Eve into sin were: (1) She went into the danger of sinning by admiring what was forbidden, instead of avoiding it. (2) She did not fly from the temptation at once, but debated about yielding to it. Similar conduct on our part will lead us also into sin.

 

Q. 253. What befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?

A. Adam and Eve, on account of their sin, lost innocence and holiness, and were doomed to sickness and death.

 

Q. 254. What other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?

A. Many other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin. They were driven out of Paradise and condemned to toil. God also ordained that henceforth the earth should yield no crops without cultivation, and that the beasts, man’s former friends, should become his savage enemies.

 

Q. 255. Were we to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever if Adam had not sinned?

A. We were not to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever even if Adam had not sinned, but after passing through the years of our probation or trial upon earth we were to be taken, body and soul, into heaven without suffering death.

 

Q. 256. What evil befell us on account of the disobedience of our first parents?

A. On account of the disobedience of our first parents, we all share in their sin and punishment, as we should have shared in their happiness if they had remained faithful.

 

Q. 257. Is it not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents?

A. It is not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents, because their punishment consisted in being deprived of a free gift of God; that is, of the gift of original justice to which they had no strict right and which they willfully forfeited by their act of disobedience.

 

Q. 258. But how did the loss of the gift of original justice leave our first parents and us in mortal sin?

A. The loss of the gift of original justice left our first parents and us in mortal sin because it deprived them of the Grace of God, and to be without this gift of Grace which they should have had was to be in mortal sin. As all their children are deprived of the same gift, they, too, come into the world in a state of mortal sin.

 

Q. 259. What other effects followed from the sin of our first parents?

A. Our nature was corrupted by the sin of our first parents, which darkened our understanding, weakened our will, and left in us a strong inclination to evil.

 

Q. 260. What do we mean by “our nature was corrupted”?

A. When we say “our nature was corrupted” we mean that our whole being, body and soul, was injured in all its parts and powers.

 

Q. 261. Why do we say our understanding was darkened?

A. We say our understanding was darkened because even with much learning we have not the clear knowledge, quick perception and retentive memory that Adam had before his fall from grace.

 

Q. 262. Why do we say our will was weakened?

A. We say our will was weakened to show that our free will was not entirely taken away by Adam’s sin, and that we have it still in our power to use our free will in doing good or evil.

 

Q. 263. In what does the strong inclination to evil that is left in us consist?

A. This strong inclination to evil that is left in us consists in the continual efforts our senses and appetites make to lead our souls into sin. The body is inclined to rebel against the soul, and the soul itself to rebel against God.

 

Q. 264. What is this strong inclination to evil called, and why did God permit it to remain in us?

A. This strong inclination to evil is called concupiscence, and God permits it to remain in us that by His grace we may resist it and thus increase our merits.

 

Q. 265. What is the sin called which we inherit from our first parents?

A. The sin which we inherit from our first parents is called original sin.

 

Q. 266. Why is this sin called original?

A. This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our soul.

 

Q. 267. Does this corruption of our nature remain in us after original sin is forgiven?

A. This corruption of our nature and other punishments remain in us after original sin is forgiven.

 

Q. 268. Was any one ever preserved from original sin?

A. The Blessed Virgin Mary, through the merits of her Divine Son, was preserved free from the guilt of original sin, and this privilege is called her Immaculate Conception.

 

Q. 269. Why was the Blessed Virgin preserved from original sin?

A. The Blessed Virgin was preserved from original sin because it would not be consistent with the dignity of the Son of God to have His Mother, even for an instant, in the power of the devil and an enemy of God.

 

Q. 270. How could the Blessed Virgin be preserved from sin by her Divine Son, before her Son was born?

A. The Blessed Virgin could be preserved from sin by her Divine Son before He was born as man, for He always existed as God and foresaw His own future merits and the dignity of His Mother. He therefore by His future merits provided for her privilege of exemption from original sin.

 

Q. 271. What does the “Immaculate Conception” mean?

A. The Immaculate Conception means the Blessed Virgin’s own exclusive privilege of coming into existence, through the merits of Jesus Christ, without the stain of original sin. It does not mean, therefore, her sinless life, perpetual virginity or the miraculous conception of Our Divine Lord by the power of the Holy Ghost.

 

Q. 272. What has always been the belief of the Church concerning this truth?

A. The Church has always believed in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin and to place this truth beyond doubt has declared it an Article of Faith.

 

Q. 273. To what should the thoughts of the Immaculate Conception lead us?

A. The thoughts of the Immaculate Conception should lead us to a great love of purity and to a desire of imitating the Blessed Virgin in the practice of that holy virtue.

14 Photos of a Procession Celebrating the 95th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima

St. Benedict’s parish (Chesapeake, VA) celebrated the 95th anniversary of the Fatima apparition. With several parishes from the area we marched a Eucharistic procession from Star of the Sea Catholic Church to the 17th St. Park in Virginia Beach.

Listers, we received the follow gallery of photos back in October from a lister in Chesapeake, Virginia. She writes:

 

St. Benedict’s parish (Chesapeake, VA) celebrated the 95th anniversary of the Fatima apparition. With several parishes from the area we marched a Eucharistic procession from Star of the Sea Catholic Church to the 17th St. Park in Virginia Beach. We prayed the rosary and sang hymns both ways, and at the park heard a small message from each priest (Frs. Nichols and Byrne from our church, and Fr. Novokowsky from Star of the Sea). It’s the first of an annual tradition.

 

SPL has written on Our Lady of Fatima and her sayings to the Faithful in Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima: 4 Things You Must Know About Our Lady of Fatima.

 

5 Statues of Mother Mary that are Unique (and Some Unsettling)

Listers, the inculturation of the Mater Dei by people groups throughout the globe and throughout the centuries has led to a plethora of beautiful and unique expressions of her maternal attributes. She is our Mother and our Queen. While displaying her regal and maternal characteristics has taken on various forms for various cultures, the themes have always been universal in Sacred Art. However, modernity has brought with it brand new mediums and new ideas on how to display marian motifs. The following statues are unique for one reason or another, sometimes for materials used or due to the circumstances around the statue. Others are complete deviations from Sacred Art and others are ancient themes that American Catholicism has been hesitant to embrace.

Those interested in the theology and veneration of Mother Mary may reference SPL’s collection of marian lists. Here are a few:

 

1. Our Lady of Peace

The Shrine of Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara, California.

The statue, which some have called “the awesome Madonna,” was finished in the Summer of 1982. It stands higher than most three-story buildings. The 7200-pound statue rises to a height of thirty-two feet and rests on a twelve-foot landscaped mound. The head, hands, and feet are cast in stainless steel. The gown is constructed of welded strips of stainless steel.

1

2

 

2. Our Lady of Breezy Point

Made famous by the devastating 2012 hurracaine “Sandy,” this statue of the Virgin Mary stands amongst the desolation of the community of Breezy Point, Queens, NY. The photo apparently first surfaced in a WSJ article and the “Virgin of Breezy Point” was mentioned on several main stream media news broadcasts. The statue is a classical representation of Our Lady made unique by tragic circumstances.

A statue of the Virgin Mary sits amid rubble in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., Tuesday. Fire destroyed at least 80 homes there as Sandy hit the beachfront community.

3

4

 

5

 

In honor of Our Lady of Breezy Point, SPL had a graphic commissioned in her honor:

Virgin of Breezy Point VBP Final

 

3. Our Lady of Angels

Without question the bronze statue of the Virgin Mary above the doors to the LA Cathedral is one of the most controversial depictions of Our Lady in recent memory. The Cathedral has apparently described the statue as follows:

Mary does not wear the traditional veil. Her arms are bare, outstretched to welcome all. Her carriage is confident, and her hands are strong, the hands of a working woman. From the side can be seen a thick braid of hair down her back that summons thoughts of Native American or Latina women. Other characteristics, such as her eyes, lips and nose convey Asian, African and Caucasian features. Without the conventional regal trappings of jewels, crown or layers of clothing, she has a dignity that shines from within.

The statue has been mocked by conservatives as an ugly deviation from the long tradition of Sacred Art. It is common that various cultures will depict Our Blessed Mother as African, Asian, or Middle Eastern, but never before has a statue attempted to blend all these together. The statue’s lack of femininity and queenly garb has led many to comment that “it” looks gender neutral as well as ethnically neutral.

Not helping the statue is the Cathedral itself, which is a complete deviation from Sacred Architecture. The structure has been compared to bomb shelter and even a pagan temple.

6

7

8

 

4. “Bombed Mary”

The “Bombed Mary” statue is actually the head and upper torso remnant that survived the US nuclear attack on Nagasaki. More reverently referred to as “Our Lady of Nagasaki,” the piece is often venerated on the memorial of the attack. Like the “Virgin of Breezy Point,” the “Bombed Mary” is a classical representation made unique by circumstances – in this case the horror of human warfare. His Eminence Cardinal Dolan has written about his experience with the piece:

Last week I welcomed the Archbishop of Nagasaki, the Most Reverend Joseph Mitsuaki. He pleaded at the United Nations for an end to all nuclear weapons. Lord knows he has immense credibility: he is now the pastor of the tiny Catholic flock of a Japanese city where 75,000 people were reduced to ash by a single atomic blast on August 9, 1945. On that day, Joseph was still a baby in his mother’s womb, and only survived because she was far enough away from ground-zero.

And something else survived: the head of the statue of Mary Immaculate in the parish church in Urakami, a village right aside Nagasaki. It was this skull of Mary that the archbishop brought with him to the U.N. and to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

And it is this head that is haunting: she is scarred, singed badly, and her crystal eyes were melted by the hellish blast. So, all that remains are two empty, blackened sockets.

I’ve knelt before many images of the Mother of Jesus before: our Mother of Perpetual Help, the Pieta, the Virgin of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, just to name a few.

But I’ve never experienced the dread and revulsion I did when the archbishop showed us the head of Our Lady of Nagasaki …

Our Lady of Nagasaki, pray for us.

9

10

11

 

5. Our Lady of Milk

It is almost guaranteed that with an American culture  bookended by Puritanism and Pornography that these unique depictions of the Virgin Mary are sure to be found embarrassing, unsettling, or even disrespectful. However in other cultures that can still venerate femininity without declaring it evil or reducing it to sexuality alone, there stands Our Lady of Milk or La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto. There is even an entire Facebook group dedicated to the image. The following is a sampling of “Our Lady of Milk.”

12

13

14

 

View an entire gallery of Our Lady of Milk statues and icons at Our Lady of Milk: 20 Images of Mother Mary Nursing.

Our Lady of the Rosary: 5 Lists about the Blessed Virgin Mary

1. Rejoice Ye Angels: 19 More Rosary Quotes

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.”
Pope Pius XI

“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.”
St. Josemaria Escriva

 

2. Grace and Glory: 11 Quotes on the Beatific Vision of Mother Mary

“To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction.”
Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX

“The Virgin received Salvation so that she may give it back to the centuries.”
Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 140

 

3. Regina Sanctissimi Rosarii: 6 Things All Catholics Should Know About the Rosary

“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.”
Blessed Pope Pius IX.

The Most Holy Rosary is simply the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When our most August Queen Mum appeared to St. Dominic in the 13th century she gave him specific instructions on how to pray Her Psalter. Today when one says they “pray the Rosary” they often mean just a third of Her Psalter, for the Most Holy Rosary consists of all 15 Mysteries. The Rosary isn’t a “man made” prayer as most Protestants and even heretical Catholics claim. In fact, it is woman made, the Holy Theotokos Herself revealed this glorious and most perfect prayer.

 

4. Delighting the Trinity: 12 Quotes on the Rosary

“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

“When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it too, and I myself am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.”
Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche

“You must know that when you ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you! Don’t think that she is one of those rude women of whom there are so many—on the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!”
Saint Bernardine of Siena

 

5. Change the World: 12 Quotes on the Rosary

“The Holy Rosary is the storehouse of countless blessing.”
Blessed Alan de la Roche

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.”
Saint Dominic

“If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, ‘you will receive a never-fading crown of glory’ (1 St. Peter 5:4).”
Saint Louis de Montfort

The Edith Stein Charm School: 3 Lessons from St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross on Being a Lady

In this modern society it is hard for a woman to understand precisely what it means to be a woman. Women are torn between a multitude of different theories concerning what the true feminine vocation is.

Listers, in this modern society it is hard for a woman to understand precisely what it means to be a woman. Women are torn between a multitude of different theories concerning what the true feminine vocation is. When I was younger I felt as if I was being pulled between the “Girl Power” mentality and the supposed “Make me a sandwich” mentality. I know that I hated it when my brothers teased me by saying that I should “Shut up, and know [my] role,” but I also seethed with contempt when some said to me “You go, girl!” while saucily snapping their fingers (clearly, I am a child of the nineties). None of those ideals seemed to work for me. None of these theories were enough. Being a woman had to be more than just being blindly submissive or just being intolerably proud. Both theories seemed either self-deprecating or selfish. By the time I entered college, I was confused and disgruntled because there was no clear answer for me. Then, when I decided to convert Catholicism, the whole game of feminine vocation changed for me. I was directed by my priest (Msgr. Gaalaas) to read a series of essays by Edith Stein. It was then when I started to realize that my role as a woman was to serve…the Lord. That simple truth made all the difference.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (aka Edith Stein) lived a very fascinating and tragic life. She was born a Jew and later converted to Catholicism. She received her doctorate in Philosophy in 1916. She became a Carmelite nun April 21, 1938. She was arrested by Gestapo and was sent to Auschwitz where she died in the gas chamber August 9, 1942. She was canonized May 1, 1987. Her life is very interesting and I recommend reading further on the Vatican website.

Her essays on the vocation and spirituality of women certainly can help guide Catholic women through the muddled mess of the rhetoric and pressure of modern society. She delves into the ideas of the religious and secular life in a balanced and thoughtful manner. She makes a distinction between three kinds of vocations for women:

  1. The Natural Vocation — Wife and Mother
  2. The Other Natural Vocation — Worker in the Secular Arena
  3. The Supernatural Vocation — The Consecrated Life

The following list is three reflections from one of her essays entitled “The Ethos of Women’s Professions” where she discusses the different options to fulfill the feminine vocation. You can find this essay in the book entitled Essays on Woman.¹ Now onto the 3 lessons on being a lady:

1. When in Doubt, Ask Yourself “What Would Mary do?”

Were we to present in contrast the image of the purely developed character of spouse and mother as it should be according to her natural vocation, we must gaze upon the Virgin Mary. In the center of her life stands her son. She awaits His birth in blissful expectation; she watches over His childhood; near or far, indeed, wherever He wishes, she follows Him on His way; she holds the crucified body in her arms; she carries out the will of the departed. But not as her action does she do all this: she is the Handmaid of the Lord; she fulfills that to which God has called her. And that is why she does not consider the child as her own property.: she has welcomed Him from God’s hands; she lays Him back into God’s hands by dedicating Him in the Temple and by being with Him at the crucifixion. Should we consider the Mother of God as spouse, we find a quite, limitless trust which in turn depends on limitless, trust, silent obedience, and obviously faithful communion in suffering. She does all this in surrender to the will of God who has bestowed her husband upon her as human protector and visible guide.

The image of the Mother of God demonstrates the basic spiritual attitude which corresponds to woman’s natural vocation; her relation to her husband is one of obedience, trust, and participation in his life as she furthers his objective tasks and personality development; to the child she gives true care, encouragement, and formation of his God-given talents; she offers both selfless surrender and a quiet withdrawal when unneeded. All is based on the concept of marriage and mother as a vocation from God; it is carried out for God’s sake and under His Guidance. –Page 45-46

2. A True “Liberated” Lady Lives A Eucharistic and Prayerful Life

To have divine love as its inner form, a woman’s life must be a Eucharistic life. Only in daily, confidential relationship with the Lord in the tabernacle can one forget self, become free of all one’s own wishes and pretensions, and have a heart open to all the needs and wants of others. Whoever seeks to consult with the Eucharistic God in all her concerns, whoever lets herself be purified by the sanctifying power coming from the sacrifice at the altar, offering herself to the Lord in this sacrifice, whoever receives the Lord in her soul’s innermost depth in Holy Communion cannot but be drawn ever more deeply and powerfully in to the flow of divine life, incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, her heart converted to the likeness of the divine heart

Something else is closely related to this. When we entrust all the troubles of our early existence confidently to the divine heart, we are relieved of them. Then our soul is free to participate in the divine life […] Therefore, the life of an authentic Catholic woman is also a liturgical life. Whoever prays together with the Church in spirit and in truth knows that her whole life must be formed by this life of prayer. –Page 55-56

3. A Lady is Born to Serve…the Lord

Must all women become religious in order to fulfill their vocation as women? Certainly not. But it certainly does mean that the fallen perverted feminine nature can be restored to its purity and led to the heights of the vocational ethos which this pure nature indicates only if it is completely surrendered to God. Whether she is a mother in the home, or occupies a place in the limelight of public life, or lives behind quiet cloister walls, she must be a handmaid of the Lord everywhere. So had the Mother of God in all circumstances of her life, as the Temple virgin enclosed in that hallowed precinct, by her quiet work in Bethlehem and Nazareth, as guide to the apostles and the Christian community after the death of her son. Were each woman an image of the Mother of God, a spouse of Christ, an apostle of the divine Heart, then would each fulfill her feminine vocation no matter what conditions she lived and what worldly activity absorbed her life. –Page 52

St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross, pray for us

 ¹All quotes were taken from the following book:
Stein, Edith. Essays on Woman from The Collected Works of Edith Stein Vol. 2. Washington D. C.: ICS Publications 1987.

The Queen Takes Her Throne: 6 Quotes on the Dormition and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary in the Roman Church and the Feast of the Dormition in the Eastern Churches.

Listers, today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary in the Roman Church and the Feast of the Dormition in the Eastern Churches. Along with the following selection of quotes, we have also shared a sermon in its entirety by St. John Damascene regarding the Dormition and Queenship of the Blessed Virgin: Sermon I on the Dormition – St. John Damascene b. A.D. 676.

1. The Woman

And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars … And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert unto her place, where she is nourished.

The Apocalypse of St. John 12:1,14

2. Intercessor before God

In thy birth-giving, O Theotokos, thou didst keep and preserve virginity; and in thy falling-asleep thou hast not forsaken the world; for thou wast translated into life, being the Mother of Life. Wherefore, by thine intercessions, deliver our souls from death.

The Troparian of the Dormition, Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

3. Glorified in the Heavens

Almighty and eternal God, who hast assumed the body and soul of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Thy Son, to celestial glory: grant, we beseech Thee, that always minded toward heavenly things, we may be sharers of the same glory.

Collect of the Assumption, Missale Romanum 1962

4. Happy Death

But God was pleased that Mary should in all things resemble Jesus; and as the Son died, it was becoming that the Mother should also die; because, moreover, He wished to give the just an example of the precious death prepared for them, He willed that even the most Blessed Virgin should die, but by a sweet and happy death.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, On The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

5. The Incorruptible One

It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.

St. John Damascene, The Dormition of Mary

6. Radiant Queen

The bright spiritual dawn of the Sun of Justice, [our Lady Mary], has gone to dwell and shine in His brilliance; she is called there by the one who rose from her, and who gives light to all things. Through her, that overwhelming radiance pours the rays of His sunshine upon us, in mercy and compassion, rekindling the souls of the faithful to imitate, as far as they can, His divine kindness and goodness. For Christ our God, who put on living and intelligent flesh, which He took from the ever-Virgin and the Holy Spirit, has called her to Himself and invested her with an incorruptibility touching all her corporeal frame; He has glorified her beyond all measure of glory, so that she, His holy Mother, might share His inheritance.

St. Modestus of Jerusalem, Encomium on the Dormition

5 English Hymns Every Catholic Should Know

Triumph, all ye cherubim,
sing with us, ye seraphim,
heaven and earth resound the hymn:
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

1. Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All

Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!

This Eucharistic hymn was written by Fr. William Faber. A friend of Bl. John Henry Newman’s,
Fr. Faber was a prominent cleric in the Church of England, who converted to Catholicism in the
midst of the Oxford Movement. He wrote several hymns, including the ever-popular “Faith of
Our Fathers”.

2. Hail, Holy Queen, Enthroned Above

Triumph, all ye cherubim,
sing with us, ye seraphim,
heaven and earth resound the hymn:
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

This classic English hymn is really a poetic translation of the ancient “Salve Regina Coelitum”
of the Roman Missal. Thanks to Whoopi Goldberg’s rousing interpretation of this hymn in her
movie “Sister Act,” it is even recognized amongst many non-Catholics.

3. Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign!

Attributed to the hymnologist Fr. Ignaz Franz, this is an 18th century German hymn, loosely
based on the text of the great “Te Deum”, that has become closely associated with the modern
ritual of Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

4. Immaculate Mary

Immaculate Mary, Thy praises we sing,
Thou reignest in splendour with Jesus our King!

Also known as the “Lourdes Hymn,” this triumphant hymn of praise to our Lady is believed to
have been written by Abbe Gaignet and adapted to a traditional French folk tune. When sung at
the Lourdes Shrine, there can be as many as sixty different verses!

5. To Jesus Christ, Our Sov’reign King

Christ Jesus Victor, Christ Jesus Ruler!
Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!

This powerful hymn, associated with the Feast of Christ the King, was written by Monsignor
Martin Hellreigel in 1941. Msgr. Hellreigel was a German priest living in St. Louis, Missouri at
the time, and offered this hymn as a counter to the dark forces of Nazism and Communism
sweeping over the world.

How I Met My Mother: 10 Reflections from the Book that Changed My Attitude Towards Mary

One of the most misunderstood aspects of our Catholic faith is our fascination and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Listers, one of the most misunderstood aspects of our Catholic faith is our fascination and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I personally struggled against this concept before I joined the Church. After I converted, I still didn’t give our Blessed Mother the due that she deserved; however, that all changed. On my honeymoon I picked up Mary: The Church at the Source by Pope Benedict XVI (at the time of publishing, he was Cardinal Ratzinger) and Hans Urs von Balthasar (who happens to be my favorite modern theologian). By the time I finished it, I discovered a new love, respect, and awe for our Holy Mother. Mary: The Church at the Source is a collection of essays by Pope Benedict XVI and Hans Urs von Balthasar. As it is written by two of the greatest Catholic theologians of the modern era, this book is by no means a quick read. However, each essay teaches something new and something exquisitely beautiful about our Holy Mother. I would compare this book to a fine wine, which must be savored to be better appreciated. I highly recommend that every Catholic should read this book. Therefore, I have given 10 tastes to whet your mariological palate. Now on to the reflections…1

#1 Mary’s Maternity Is More than Just a Matter of Biology

We must avoid relegating Mary’s maternity to the sphere of mere biology. But we can do so only if our reading of Scripture can legitimately presuppose a hermeneutic that rules out just this kind of division and allows us instead to recognize the correlation of Christ and his Mother as a theological reality.” —Page 29 Pope Benedict XVI.

#2 The Necessity of Marian Piety

The organ for seeing God is the purified heart. It may just be the task of Marian piety to awaken the heart and purify it in faith. If the misery of contemporary man is his increasing disintegration into mere bios and mere rationality, Marian piety could work against this “decomposition” and help man to rediscover unity in the center, from the heart.” —Page 36 Pope Benedict XVI

#3 Mary, the Signpost of Hope

This is why Mary, who has given him birth is truly “full of grace” – she becomes a sign to history. The angel’s greeting makes it clear that the blessing is more powerful than the curse. The sign of woman has become the sign of hope; she is the signpost of hope.” — Page 53 Pope Benedict XVI

#4 Mary’s Openess to God’s Word

Mary’s divine maternity and her enduring attitude of openness to God’s word are seen as interpenetrating here: giving ear to the angel’s greeting. Mary welcomes the Holy Spirit into herself. Having become pure hearing, she receives the Word so totally it becomes flesh in her. — Page 72 Pope Benedict XVI

#5 The Incarnation as Hard to Imagine Without Mary

Thus the woman who called herself lowly, that is nameless (Luke1:48) stands at the core of the profession of faith in the living God, and it is impossible to imagine it without her. She is an indispensable, central component of our faith in the living, acting God. The Word becomes flesh – the eternal Meaning grounding the universe enters in her. It needed the Virgin for this to be possible, the Virgin who made available her whole person, that is her embodied existence, her very self, as the place of God’s dwelling place in the world. The Incarnation required consenting acceptance. Only in this way do Logos and flesh really become one. — Page 83 Pope Benedict XVI

#6 Mary as Jesus’s First Teacher

Now, this means that even Jesus himself has above all his Mother to thank for his human self-consciousness, unless we suppose that he was a supernatural wunderkind who should not have to owe this self-consciousness to anyone. But such a hypothesis would jeopardize Jesus’s humanity […] She must have introduced Jesus into the tradition and so enabled him to recognize his own mission in the mirror of the promise. True, Jesus’ personal prayer and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit disclosed this mission to him with increasing depth. Nevertheless, the human contribution – to this process must by no means be underestimated; this, too, would offend against the learning process of a normal child. — Page 103 Hans Urs von Balthasar

#7 Mary’s Naked Faith

The purpose of this constant training in the naked faith Mary will need under the cross is often insufficiently understood; people are astonished and embarrassed by the way in which Jesus treats his Mother, whom he addresses both in Cana and at the Cross only as “woman.” He himself is the first one to wield the sword that must pierce her. But how else would she have become ready to stand by the Cross, where not only her Son’s earthly failure, but also his abandonment by the God who sends him is revealed. She must finally say Yes to this, too, because she consented a priori to her child’s whole destiny. — Page 109 Hans Urs von Balthasar

#8 Mary and the Eucharist

First, the Mass. Does any Christian really know what a sacrifice it is to offer the Father the Son as the world’s redeemer after the Consecration? But those who contemplate Mary’s sacrificial gesture get a glimmer of why, despite all objection, we can and must describe the Eucharistic celebration as a sacrifice (not of Christ alone, but also of the Church). And does any one of us really receive the Son in Holy Communion as perfectly as he offers himself? We are right to pray, “Look not on our sins, but on the faith of our Church”: on that perfect act of faith that was nowhere as undivided as in Mary — Page 112 Hans Urs von Balthasar

#9 The Importance of the Veneration of Mary

The veneration of Mary is the surest and shortest way to get close to Christ in a concrete way. In meditating on her life in all its phases we can learn what it means to live for and with Christ – in the everyday, in an unsentimental matter-of-factness that nonetheless enjoys perfect inner intimacy, Contemplating Mary’s existence, we also submit to the darkness imposed on our faith, yet we learn how we must always be ready when Jesus suddenly asks something from us. — Page 117 Hans Urs von Balthasar

#10 Mary, Mother of the Church

If we are ready to do this, then even today we can see the face of the Church light up with the motherly look and expression that was so obvious to, and so enriching for, the first Christian centuries. It is because we Christians had long lost sight of this motherly aspect that the present Pope (Paul VI) expressed it by giving Mary the title “Mother of the Church.” This title is legitimate, so long as the Church, precisely as an assembly of individual believers, is also seen as the structured social organization that we customarily consider her to be today. If we could make up our minds to penetrate through this understanding of the Church to a deeper level, we could once more realize the “archetypal identity” between Mary and the Church and, from time to time at least, drop the “of the” between “Mother” and “Church.” —Page 143 Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Mother of the Church, pray for us!

 

More on Mother Mary from SPL
St. Peter’s List offers a wide range of lists on the Blessed Virgin. To those Catholics seeking a more biblical understanding of Mary’s roles within salvation and to any protestant readers we’d suggest 4 Biblical Reasons Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant and 6 Biblical Reasons Mother Mary is the New Eve. We also offer a wide range of quote banks concerning Mary, the Rosary, and other doctrinal issues. – HH Ambrose

  1. All reflections are taken from the following book: von Balthasar, Hans Urs and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Mary: The Church at the Source. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005. []

We Honor the Blessed Virgin: 10 Marian Quotes

“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”
Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Listers, we are children of the New Eve, the New Ark of the Covenant and the Queen of Heaven. St. Peter’s List was founded in October 2011 and as October is the month Holy Mother Church celebrates the Holy Rosary, we have and will always have lists honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Rosary.

 

We Honor the Blessed Virgin
The 15 Promises of the Rosary as Given by Our Lady
Virgo Potens: 8 Quotes by Roman Pontiffs on the Rosary
Regina Sanctissimi Rosarii: 6 Things All Catholics Should Know About the Rosary
Delighting the Trinity: 12 Quotes on the Rosary

 

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for your children.

“We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #94

“Mary has the authority over the angels and the blessed in heaven. As a reward for her great humility, God gave her the power and mission of assigning to saints the thrones made vacant by the apostate angels who fell away through pride. Such is the will of the almighty God who exalts the humble, that the powers of heaven, earth and hell, willingly or unwillingly, must obey the commands of the humble Virgin Mary. For God has made her queen of heaven and earth, leader of his armies, keeper of his treasure, dispenser of his graces, mediatrix on behalf of men, destroyer of his enemies, and faithful associate in his great works and triumphs.”
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #28

“All true children of God have God for their father and Mary for their mother; anyone who does not have Mary for his mother, does not have God for his father. This is why the reprobate, such as heretics and schismatics, who hate, despise or ignore the Blessed Virgin, do not have God for their father though they arrogantly claim they have, because they do not have Mary for their mother. Indeed if they had her for their mother they would love and honour her as good and true children naturally love and honour the mother who gave them life.”
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #30

“If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother.”
Saint Maximilian Kolbe

“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”
Saint Maximilian Kolbe

St. Louis de Montfort, pray for us.

“Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son.” (“Non est dubium, quicquid in laudibus matris profermius, ad
filium pertinere.”)
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church, Horn. 4, Sup. Miss.

“No matter how sinful one may have been, if he has devotion to Mary, it is impossible that he be lost.”
Saint Hilary of Poitiers – Bishop, Father, and Doctor of the Church

“Seek refuge in Mary because she is the city of refuge. We know that Moses set up three cities of refuge for anyone who inadvertently killed his neighbor. Now the Lord has established a refuge of mercy, Mary, even for those who deliberately commit evil. Mary provides shelter and strength for the sinner.”
Saint Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church

“As soon as she [Mary] had the use of reason, that is, from the first moment of her immaculate conception in the womb of St. Ann, from that time she began with all her powers to love her God; and thus she continued to do, ever advancing more in perfection and love through her whole life. All her thoughts, her desires, her affections, were wholly given to God; not a word, not a motion, not a glance of the eye, not a breath of hers that was not for God and for his glory, never departing one step, nor separating herself for one moment from the divine love.”
Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop of Saint Agatha of the Goths and Doctor of the Church

“If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is severed from the Godhead. If anyone should assert that He passed through the Virgin as through a channel, and was not at once divinely and humanly formed in her (divinely, because without the intervention of a man; humanly, because in accordance with the laws of gestation), he is in like manner godless.”
Saint Gregory Nazianzen – Archbishop of Constantinople, Father, and Doctor of the Church

Listers, pray the Rosary daily.

4 Biblical Reasons Mary Is The New Ark of the Covenant

An in depth biblical approach to Mary as the “New Ark of the Convenant.”

Listers, as with all Marian doctrine, a better understanding of Mary only serves to illuminate Christ Our Lord, because every grace she received and every role she held within salvation history  is rooted in Christ. Her role as the New Ark of the Covenant serves to reveal the true nature of Jesus Christ – one person with two natures: divine and human – and illuminate the purpose of the Incarnation within salvation history. The Old Testament is perfected by the New, and Mother Mary is the perfection of the old Ark of the Covenant.

“We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #94

Credit & Notable Marian Works
Those looking for a deeper understanding of the Virgin Mary should consult the following works: for an academic but spiritual treatment within the dominican tradition SPL suggests Mother of the Saviour: And Our Interior Life by the keen mind of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., and for a seminal Marian devotional we suggest The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by one of the most famous proponents of mariology, St. Louis de Montfort, and finally, for a biblical and basic introduction to the Blessed Virgin – and an excellent primer for protestants – SPL suggests Hail, Holy Queen:The Mother of God in the Word of God by Scott Hahn. Overall, Hahn’s works offer Catholics and non-Catholics alike a wide-range of excellent theological primers, and his Hail, Holy Queen text greatly contributed to the last two points of this list.1

“The ark is verily the holy Virgin, gilded within and without, who received the treasure of universal sanctification. Arise, O Lord, from the Father’s bosom, to raise up again the ruined race of our first parent” (Orat. in Deip. Annunciat. Int. Opp. S. Greg. Thaumaturg) (Blessed Virgin, p. 89). St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (c. 213-c. 270)

“As Christ our priest was not chosen by hand of man, so neither was His tabernacle framed by men, but was established by the Holy Ghost; and by the power of God is that tabernacle protected, to be had in everlasting remembrance, Mary, God’s Virgin Mother” (S. Dionysius of Alexandria, Respons. ad Quoest. v. Pauli Samos) (Blessed Virgin, p. 81). St. Dionysius (died 264)

Both the Old Ark and the New Ark were “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit. “The Annunciation” – Andrea del Sarto

1. Hail, Full of Grace

The Old Ark Was the Physical Dwelling Place of the Shekinah Glory
The New Ark Was the Physical Dwelling Place of the Word Incarnate

The Ark of the Covenant was the point of contact for the presence of God within the Holy of Holies.2

And the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

At the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel told Mother Mary she would be the Mater Dei, the Mother of God. In her womb God’s physical presence would dwell in a way never before seen: the second person of the Trinity was to take upon human nature, and become Incarnate.

And [the Archangel Gabriel] came to [Mary] and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greetings this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

How is Mary a More Perfect Ark?
The New Testament perfects the Old, and whereas the old Ark of the Covenant had been lost, God provided a new and more perfect one – an immaculate woman. The Ark moves from being a human artifact of wood and gold, to a the highest honored and highest human creature3 The presence of God is perfected insofar as the Second Person of the Trinity becomes Incarnate, and his mission is the forgiveness and satisfaction of mankind.

Why does the Angel say “Full of Grace?”
Entire bulwarks of the Catholic tradition are built upon this phrase, but a brief sketch is necessary to understand Mary’s unique role in salvation history. Grace – as we know it – did not exist before the victory of Christ; moreover, the Old Testament sacrifices forgave sins, but they could not offer proper satisfaction for them – they left man in an infinite debt due to sin. The angel stating “full of grace” points to Mary as Immaculate, the pure vessel of Christ’s Incarnation, the virgin and sinless flesh from which Christ would draw his human nature. Mary was “full of grace” because the was born without original sin and had remained sinless in order to be the New Ark of the Covenant, the Mother of God. It is important to note that Mary’s grace is still rooted in Christ, and is orientated toward the mission of salvation. Both Mary’s biblical roles as the New Ark of the Covenant and of the New Eve articulate a need for her to be perfect in relationship to Christ, not to mention the greatest need of all – it was from her Christ drew his humanity.

Tabernacle and Sacred Vessels 1728, Gerard Hoet (1648-1733), Wikicommons

2. The Contents of the Arks

Ark Contained the Commandments, Manna, & Aaron’s Rod
New Ark Contained Christ Our Lord: Logos, Bread of Life, King/Priest

The Old Testament Ark was said to contain three things: the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments carved by the finger of God, the priestly rod of Moses’ brother Aaron, and the heavenly manna that sustained Israel in post-Egyptian wandering.

While the old Ark is acacia wood wrapped in gold, the New Ark of the Covenant is the Immaculate Woman Mary. Since being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, her womb became the dwelling place of God on Earth until the birth of Christ. As the New Testament is a perfection and fulfillment of the Old, so too is Christ’s Incarnation in the Virgin Mary a perfection of the Old Ark of the Covenant. The contents of the New Ark perfect the contents of the Old Ark insofar as Christ the Lord takes upon himself the roles of the former objects: Word of God, Bread of Life, & Eternal Priest.

Old & New Contents

The Word of God in the Stone Tablets 4
The Word of God Incarnate

And he took the [tablets of the] covenant and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark, and set the mercy seat above on the ark;

Christ’s perfection of the Tablets of the Covenant or more commonly called the Tablets of the Ten Commandments is multifaceted. The most complete perfection is the overall understanding the the primary “Word of God” is not Scripture, but Christ. Christ is the Living Word, the Logos.5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. […] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

Moreover, the Tablets of the Covenant represented the old convenant and its laws. Christ comes and perfects those laws, most notably during his Sermon on the Mount.6 Changing the Laws requires the proper authority, and to change divine laws requires divine authority. Christ, as the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, obviously had the divine authority and he demonstrated it both as the Eternal King in the lineage of King David and as the Eternal Priest in the lineage of Melchizedek.7

 

Manna, the Life-giving bread of Heaven
Jesus Christ, the “Bread of Life”

It is fitting that the Book of Hebrews, which has at its core the goal to demonstrate the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament – especially in articulating Christ as our High Priest – would highlight the contents of the Old Ark.8

Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.

Concerning the Old Ark and manna, Christ our Lord is the perfect “Bread of Life.” In the Gospel of John, Christ gives his famous “Eucharistic Discourse.” The entire latter half of the chapter is an in depth discussion on the Eucharist and Christ’s body and blood as the life giving sacrament.9

I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. […] So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

Christ’s “Eucharistic Discourse” paves the way for the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. In speaking to his disciples, Christ says the following:10

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

Biblically, it is very clear that the manna of the OT is perfected by the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, which is for us today the source and summit of the Catholic life, the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

 

Aaron’s Rod, the Sign of the Ancestral Priesthood
Christ, the Eternal Priest in the Order of Melchizedek

As in the aforesaid Hebrew’s verse, Aaron’s rod was placed within the Ark of the Covenant. The rod of Aaron was a sign of the priesthood. The book of Hebrews takes up as a main focus the eternal priesthood of Christ Jesus.11

So also Christ did no exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

You are my Son, today I have begotten you;
As he says also in another place,

“You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

The subject of Christ as the Eternal Priest is exhausted by the book of Hebrews, and it speaks directly to the argument of how Christ’s priesthood could have perfected the ancestral lineage of the Old Testament priesthood – especially since Christ was not born into that lineage. The author highlights the High Priest Melchizedek, and the legitimacy of Christ’s eternal priesthood being rooted in the Order of Melchizedek.

King David plays the Harp before the Ark of the Covenant, source unknown.

3. Joy Before the Ark

King David & the Ark
Elizabeth & the New Ark

One intriguing aspect of Hebrew literature is the fact it does not give unnecessary details. Understanding this facet can illuminate certain passages, especially when one notes that the Hebrews were not concerned with many of the attributes the modern western mind expects of stories and history. Along this note, the Catholic tradition observes several OT passages and NT passages that utilize the same details and phrases. The Early Church fathers were quick to extract many of these comparisons, especially in the more broad sense of parallel ideas, e.g., St. Augustine seeing the Creation in Genesis allegorically as the new birth of a Christian soul from “formless and void” to the abundant earth. Other comparisons are more nuanced and exist on noticing exact repetitions of words or phrases within similar circumstances. One such detailed pericope contains the story of when King David received the Ark of the Covenant.12

And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Ba’ale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim.

The passage then recounts the unfortunate story of Uzzah, the man who amongst the merriment put his hand on the Ark after an oxen stumbled. Uzzah was smitten by God, and David became afraid. However, Scripture records the detail of how much time David spent waiting after the death of Uzzah, and that time was three months.

And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” So David was not willing to take the ark of the LORD into the city of David; but David took it aside to the house of O’bed-e’dom the Gittite. […] So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of O’bed-e’dom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the horn. As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

In the Gospel of Luke, the evangelist records the story of when Mary went to visit Elizabeth. The passage utilizes some of the exact phrasing from the pericope in I Samuel, and even replaces the term “ark” with “mother of my Lord” when Elizabeth asks why Mary has come to her, as David did with the Ark.13 The similar language in both selections have been emboldened.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechari’ah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; 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! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.

After Mary delivers her famous Magnificat, the passage ends telling the reader how much time has elapsed.

And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

The similarities between these two passages demand attention. Both begin with the same phrase “arose and went,” both dwelt in the hill country of Judah, David speaks of his unworthiness before the Old Ark as Elizabeth does before the New Ark (even replacing the work ark with “mother of my Lord”), David dances and leaps before the presence of the Lord and John the Baptist leaps in joy within Elizabeth’s womb (often seen as Christ’s presence anointing John to be a prophet), and both remain the same amount of time: three months.14 While comments on Mary as the New Ark abound in Early Church literature, the following quote by Ambrose is especially insightful.

“The prophet David danced before the Ark.  Now what else should we say the Ark was but holy Mary?  The Ark bore within it the tables of the Testament, but Mary bore the Heir of the same Testament itself.  The former contained in it the Law, the latter the Gospel.  The one had the voice of God, the other His Word.  The Ark, indeed, was radiant within and without with the glitter of gold, but holy Mary shone within and without with the splendor of virginity.  The one was adorned with earthly gold, the other with heavenly” (Serm. xlii. 6, Int. Opp., S. Ambrosii) (Blessed Virgin, p. 77). St. Ambrose (c. 339-397)

“Our Lady of the Sign-Ark of Mercy” offers no middle ground between protestant and Catholic theology. St. Stanislaus, Chicago.

4. The Apocalypse of St. John

The Old Was Lost
The New Ark is Found

Many are under the false impression that the Ark of the Covenant was in the Temple during the time of Christ. Commenting on this misunderstanding, biblical scholar and popular writer Scott Hahn states, “around 587 B.C., the prophet Jeremiah concealed the ark in order to preserve it from defilement when Babylonian invaders came to destroy the temple.15

And Jeremiah came and found a cave, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense, and he sealed up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up to mark the way, but could not find it. When Jeremiah learned of it, he rebuked them and declared: “The place shall be unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy. And then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will appear, as they were shown in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place should be specially consecrated.”

It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the Ark within Old Testament Judaism. Given its central role in worship and the fact it was lost, any mention of the Ark of the Covenant during the time it was lost was sure to be noteworthy. In St. John’s Revelation, he mentions the ark at the end of chapter eleven.16

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

Scott Hahn delivers several astute observations regarding the mentioning of the Ark and the Jewish historical context in which St. John was writing. He says, “imagine you are a first -century reader, raised as a Jew. You have never seen the ark, but all your religious and cultural upbringing has taught you to long for its restoration in the temple… the dramatic tension [in John’s writing] becomes nearly unbearable. The reader wants to see the ark, as John sees it.”17 However as Hahn notes, St. John does not then go on to speak of the OT Ark (the switch in chapter from 11 to 12 should not import any concern, considering the original texts had no such distinctions). What John does begin to describe is a woman:

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.

As with all Marian doctrine, Christ is the center and he is the key to understanding Revelation 12. Christ is the child born unto the woman.

She brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

The child is brought to God and his throne, which must be Christ. Moreover, the child rules with a “rod of iron,” which is a reference to King David, and Christ is the “Son of David” that will sit upon the Davidic throne forever.

The “Our Lady of the Sign-Ark of Mercy” is the largest Monstrance in the World.

Could the Woman be Israel?
While there could be certain traits – even beneficial ones – to understanding the woman as Israel, the Marian readings harmonizes best with the text and would still remain the primary reading. The latter half of St. John’s Revelation chapter reveals more about the woman.

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child. […] Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.

Revelation 12 is an exhaustive Marian text, because Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant, the New Eve, and the New Queen of the Davidic Kingdom – and all three of those roles are demonstrated within the chapter as a whole. Within the given pericope, a special enmity is seen between the woman and the dragon, which recalls the reader’s mind to God’s words in Genesis regarding the enmity between Eve and the serpent. A “Israel” reading becomes confusing; Israel could be seen as the mother of Christ – though Mary has historically held the role of Mater Dei, Theotokos, the Mother of God without question – but it is a stretch to see Israel as the mother of Christians. If it is the “New Israel,” the Church, that could present an option, but again, the Church has never been referred to as the Mother of God – she is the Bride of Christ. Biblically speaking, Mother Mary fits the roles within Revelation 12, and for our purposes here, shows herself to be the New Ark of the Covenant.

“Be mindful of us, most holy virgin, who after childbirth didst remain virgin; and grant to us for these small words great gifts from the riches of they graces, O thou full of grace. Accept them as though they were true and adequate praises in they honor; and if there is in them any virtue and any praise, we offer them as a hymn from ourselves and from all creatures to thee, full of grace, Lady, Queen, Mistress, Mother of God, and Ark of sanctification” (Orat. In Deip. Annuntiat, nn. 13, 14. Int. Opp. S. Athanasii) (Blessed Virgin, p. 80). St. Athanasius (c. 296-373)

Mother Mary, New Ark of the Covenant, pray for us.
HHAmbrose

  1. Early Church Quotes on Mary as the New Ark of the Covenent: SOURCE []
  2. The Old Ark: Lev 16:2, RSV; Ex 25:10-22 – dimensions, look of the ark []
  3. Mary as the Highest Created Human: Often times protestants will errnoneously reject this claim based on Christ as the highest created human – this view is a heresy. The personhood of Christ already existed as the Second Person of the Trinity, and he took upon himself human nature; moreover, Christ’s personhood was not created. []
  4. Ex 40:20 []
  5. John 1:1, 14a []
  6. Matthew 5, 6, 7 []
  7. Christ as “Son of David” – Matt 1:1-2; 9:27-29; Mk 10:47, 48; Promise to King David –  I Chron 17:14; Ps 89:35-36; Luke1:31; Christ in the order of Melchizedek – Heb 4:14-5:10; 7; The ability, as the new Priest, to change the law: Heb 7:12 []
  8. The Contents of the Ark: Hebrews 9:4 (Tablets, Aaron’s Rod, Manna), however, I Kings 8:9 says only the tablets were inside the Ark. Contradiction theories aside, the discrepancy is easily explained by the fact I Kings was written early in the history of the People of Israel, and the rod and manna were simply added later. []
  9. Eucharistic Discourse: John 6:22-71 – There are protestant objections to this passage, which primarily try to state why Christ was not being literal. Outside the irony that this is one of the only passages the protestant tradition does not advocate a literal reading, the insistence of Christ and his disciples’ reaction to it is clear enough for a literal reading. Every time the disciples misunderstood a teaching, Christ scolded them, but he did not let them leave confused. At the end of this passage, many disciples leave Christ, and Christ not only lets them leave unhindered, but further presses the issue on his disciples. []
  10. Matthew 26:26 []
  11. Christ the High Priest: Hebrews 5:5,6 – 7:1-28 []
  12. King David and the Ark: II Sam 6:2-16 []
  13. Mary Visits Elizabeth: Gospel of Luke 1:39-56 []
  14. Comparison Credit: the comparison between II Sam 6 and Luke 1 is described in Scott Hahn’s work Hail Holy Queen (p.63-64), which is an excellent introduction to understanding the biblical roles of Mary, especially for those of the protestant ecclesial communities. []
  15. The Ark is Hidden: 2 Mac 2:5-8 []
  16. The Ark & Mary as the New Ark in Revelation: Revelation 11:19 – 12:17 []
  17. Hahn, 54 []

18 Quotes by Roman Pontiffs on Mary as Mediatrix

“If it is impossible to separate what God has united, it is also certain that you cannot find Jesus except with Mary and through Mary.” – St. Pius X

Roman Pontiffs on Mary as Mediatrix:

Treasury of All Good Things

1. “God has committed to her the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary.” and “God has committed to the Blessed Virgin Mary the treasury of all good things in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace and all salvation.” (Pius IX: Encycl., Ubi primum, February 2, 1849.) — [p. 12, number 12; p. 18, no. 38]

Only Through Thee

2. “O Virgin most holy, none abounds in the knowledge of God except through thee; none, O Mother of God, obtains salvation except through thee, none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Adiutricem populi, September 5, 1895.) — [p. 12, no. 13]

No One Goes to CHrist Except Through His Mother

3. “With equal truth it may be said that of the great treasury of all graces given to us by Our Lord—for grace and truth came by Jesus Christ—nothing comes to us except through Mary’s mediation, for such is God’s Will. Thus, as no man goes to the Father but by the Son, so no one goes to Christ except through his mother.” (Leo XIII, Encycl., Octobri mense, September 22, 1891.) — [pp. 13,14, no. 19]

With Mary and Through Mary

4. “If it is impossible to separate what God has united, it is also certain that you cannot find Jesus except with Mary and through Mary.” (St. Pius X: Allocution to the Franciscans, November 12, 1910.) — [p. 14, no. 20]

 

The “Our Lady of the Sign-Ark of Mercy” is the largest Monstrance in the World.

Our Lady of the Rosary

5. “Every day, as the Church herself recommends, priests will recite the Holy Rosary, which, by proposing for our meditation the mysteries of the Redeemer, leads us to Jesus through Mary.” (Pius XII: Exhortation, Menti nostri, September 23, 1950) — [p. 14, no. 23]

What We Owe the Virgin Mary

6. “As the various mysteries present themselves one after another in the formula of the Rosary, for the meditation and contemplation of men’s minds, they also make clear what we owe to Mary for our reconciliation and salvation.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Fidentum Piumque, September 20, 1896.) [pp. 15,16, no. 29]

All Hope

7. “All our hope do we repose in the Most Blessed Virgin, in the all-fair and immaculate one who has crushed the most cruel serpent’s poisonous head and brought salvation to the world.” (Pius IX: Apost. Const., Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854.) — [p. 18, no. 39]

The Mediatrix of Our Salvation

8. “O Holy Mother of God; to thee we lift our prayers for thou, powerful and merciful, art the Mediatrix of our salvation.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Jucunda semper, September 8, 1894.) — [p. 19, no. 43]

Through the Mater Dei

9. “None, O Mother of God, obtains salvation except through thee, none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee.” (Leo XIII: Adiutricem populi, September 5, 1895) — [p. 19, no. 44]

I Stand With the Catholic Church: 10 Pictures in Defense of the Church

Mary is the Mediatrix and the Dispenser of Graces

10. “Whenever we speak of Mary or speak to her, let us not forget that she is really our Mother, for through her we received divine life. She gave us Jesus himself, the source of grace. Mary is a Mediatrix and Dispenser of Graces.” (Pius XII: Radio message to the Italian Catholic Action, December 8, 1953) — [p. 22, no. 59]

Under her Patronage

11. “Since Mary is ‘Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope,’ let us cry to her, ‘mourning and weeping in the vale of tears,’ and place ourselves and all that is ours confidently under her patronage.” (Pius XII: Mediator Dei, November 20, 1947.) — [p. 25, no. 71]

Hope & Trust

12. “The Catholic Church has always and with justice put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God.” (Leo XIII: Encyclical, Supreme Apostolatus, September 1, 1883.) — [p. 32, no. 104]

Suffering with her Son

13. “According to the common teaching of the Doctors, it was God’s design that the Blessed Virgin Mary, apparently absent from the public life of Jesus, should assist him when he was dying nailed to the Cross. Mary suffered and as it were, nearly died with her suffering Son; for the salvation of mankind she renounced her mother’s rights and, as far as it depended on her, offered her Son to placate divine justice; so we may well say that she with Christ redeemed mankind.” (Benedict XV: Letter, Inter sodalicia, May 22, 1918.) [p. 35; no. 119]

Immune from All Sin

14. “She it was who, immune from all sin, personal or inherited, and ever more closely united with her Son, offered him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father….” (Pius XII: Encyclical, Mystical corporis, June 29, 1943.) [p. 37; no. 128.]

 

Sorrowful Heart of Mary, pray for us.

Necessary to Secure Salvation

15. “… it is evident that she cannot do other than help most devotedly her dearest adopted sons at an hour at which it is necessary to secure for them salvation and sanctity for all eternity.” (Benedict XV: Letter, Inter sodalicia, May 22, 1918.) [p. 46; no. 171]

She Has Received Us As Sons

16. “… It was before the eyes of Mary that the divine sacrifice for which she had borne and nurtured the Victim was to be finished. … In the miracle of love, so that she might receive us as her sons ….” (Leo XIII: Encyclical, Jucunda semper, September 8, 1894.) [p. 50; no.187]

All Graces to Mankind

17. “Mary is all powerful with her divine Son who grants all graces to mankind through her …” (Benedict XV: Encyclical, Fausto appetente die, June 29, 1921.) [p. 59; no. 244]

Salvation of the Christian People

18. “From whom can we expect the salvation of the Christian people today if not from her of whom it is written that whosoever shall find her shall find life and shall have salvation from the Lord?” (Pius XI: Letter, Cum valde, Februrary 20, 1929.) [p. 59; no. 245]

Pope Benedict XVI’s 11 Introductory Steps to Understanding the Writings of Aquinas

“In Aquino moreover, on that same day, again with reference to St Thomas, Paul VI said, “all of us who are faithful sons and daughters of the Church can and must be his disciples, at least to some extent!”

Listers, Pope Benedict XVI closes his three-part catechesis over St. Thomas Aquinas by discussing the Angelic Doctor’s Summa Theologiae and catechetical sermons. The following is the entire homily given by His Holiness during the Wednesday General Audience of the 23th of June 2010. SPL has added the titles and subtitles.

 

Pope Benedict XVI’s Three Part Catechesis on St. Thomas Aquinas
Eucharistic Soul: 9 Statements by Pope Benedict XVI on St. Thomas Aquinas
Our Guide Through Modernism: 12 Teachings from Pope Benedict XVI on Aquinas

 

1. We Are All His Disciples to Some Extent

“Today I would like to complete, with a third instalment, my Catecheses on St Thomas Aquinas. Even more than 700 years after his death we can learn much from him. My Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, also said this, in a Discourse he gave at Fossanova on 14 September 1974 on the occasion of the seventh centenary of St Thomas’ death. He asked himself: “Thomas, our Teacher, what lesson can you give us?”. And he answered with these words: “trust in the truth of Catholic religious thought, as defended, expounded and offered by him to the capacities of the human mind.”1 In Aquino moreover, on that same day, again with reference to St Thomas, Paul VI said, “all of us who are faithful sons and daughters of the Church can and must be his disciples, at least to some extent!”2

2. Importance of the Summa Theologiae

His Masterpiece
“Let us too, therefore, learn from the teaching of St Thomas and from his masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae. It was left unfinished, yet it is a monumental work: it contains 512 questions and 2,669 articles. It consists of concentrated reasoning in which the human mind is applied to the mysteries of faith, with clarity and depth to the mysteries of faith, alternating questions with answers in which St Thomas deepens the teaching that comes from Sacred Scripture and from the Fathers of the Church, especially St Augustine.”

Truth Shines Out
“In this reflection, in meeting the true questions of his time, that are also often our own questions, St Thomas, also by employing the method and thought of the ancient philosophers, and of Aristotle in particular, thus arrives at precise, lucid and pertinent formulations of the truths of faith in which truth is a gift of faith, shines out and becomes accessible to us, for our reflection. However, this effort of the human mind Aquinas reminds us with his own life is always illumined by prayer, by the light that comes from on high. Only those who live with God and with his mysteries can also understand what they say to us.”

3. Teaching the Knowledge of God

God’s Existence
“In the Summa of theology, St Thomas starts from the fact that God has three different ways of being and existing: God exists in himself, he is the beginning and end of all things, which is why all creatures proceed from him and depend on him: then God is present through his Grace in the life and activity of the Christian, of the saints; lastly, God is present in an altogether special way in the Person of Christ, here truly united to the man Jesus, and active in the Sacraments that derive from his work of redemption.”

Structure of Summa
“Therefore, the structure of this monumental work3, a quest with “a theological vision” for the fullness of God4, is divided into three parts and is illustrated by the Doctor Communis himself St Thomas with these words:

“Because the chief aim of sacred doctrine is to teach the knowledge of God, not only as he is in himself, but also as he is the beginning of things and their last end, and especially of rational creatures, as is clear from what has already been said, therefore, we shall treat: (1) Of God; (2) Of the rational creature’s advance towards God; (3) Of Christ, Who as man, is our way to God.”5

“It is a circle: God in himself, who comes out of himself and takes us by the hand, in such a way that with Christ we return to God, we are united to God, and God will be all things to all people.”

4. The 3 Parts of the Summa Theologica

First Part
“The First Part of the Summa Theologiae thus investigates God in himself, the mystery of the Trinity and of the creative activity of God. In this part we also find a profound reflection on the authentic reality of the human being, inasmuch as he has emerged from the creative hands of God as the fruit of his love. On the one hand we are dependent created beings, we do not come from ourselves; yet, on the other, we have a true autonomy so that we are not only something apparent as certain Platonic philosophers say but a reality desired by God as such and possessing an inherent value.”

Second Part
“In the Second Part St Thomas considers man, impelled by Grace, in his aspiration to know and love God in order to be happy in time and in eternity. First of all the Author presents the theological principles of moral action, studying how, in the free choice of the human being to do good acts, reason, will and passions are integrated, to which is added the power given by God’s Grace through the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as the help offered by moral law. Hence the human being is a dynamic being who seeks himself, seeks to become himself, and, in this regard, seeks to do actions that build him up, that make him truly man; and here the moral law comes into it. Grace and reason itself, the will and the passions enter too. On this basis St Thomas describes the profile of the man who lives in accordance with the Spirit and thus becomes an image of God.”

“Here Aquinas pauses to study the three theological virtues faith, hope and charity followed by a critical examination of more than 50 moral virtues, organized around the four cardinal virtues prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. He then ends with a reflection on the different vocations in the Church.”

Third Part
“In the Third Part of the Summa, St Thomas studies the Mystery of Christ the way and the truth through which we can reach God the Father. In this section he writes almost unparalleled pages on the Mystery of Jesus’ Incarnation and Passion, adding a broad treatise on the seven sacraments, for it is in them that the Divine Word Incarnate extends the benefits of the Incarnation for our salvation, for our journey of faith towards God and eternal life. He is, as it were, materially present with the realities of creation, and thus touches us in our inmost depths.”

5. Mystery of the Eucharist

His Eucharistic Soul
“In speaking of the sacraments, St Thomas reflects in a special way on the Mystery of the Eucharist, for which he had such great devotion, the early biographers claim, that he would lean his head against the Tabernacle, as if to feel the throbbing of Jesus’ divine and human heart. In one of his works, commenting on Scripture, St Thomas helps us to understand the excellence of the sacrament of the Eucharist, when he writes:

“Since this [the Eucharist] is the sacrament of Our Lord’s Passion, it contains in itself the Jesus Christ who suffered for us. Thus, whatever is an effect of Our Lord’s Passion is also an effect of this sacrament. For this sacrament is nothing other than the application of Our Lord’s Passion to us.”6

Fall in Love with the Sacrament
“We clearly understand why St Thomas and other Saints celebrated Holy Mass shedding tears of compassion for the Lord who gave himself as a sacrifice for us, tears of joy and gratitude. Dear brothers and sisters, at the school of the Saints, let us fall in love with this sacrament! Let us participate in Holy Mass with recollection, to obtain its spiritual fruits, let us nourish ourselves with this Body and Blood of Our Lord, to be ceaselessly fed by divine Grace! Let us willingly and frequently linger in the company of the Blessed Sacrament in heart-to-heart conversation!”

6. Aquinas’ Preaching

Opuscoli
“All that St Thomas described with scientific rigour in his major theological works, such as, precisely, the Summa Theologiae, and the Summa contra gentiles, was also explained in his preaching, both to his students and to the faithful. In 1273, a year before he died, he preached throughout Lent in the Church of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. The content of those sermons was gathered and preserved: they are the Opuscoli in which he explains the Apostles’ Creed, interprets the Prayer of the Our Father, explains the Ten Commandments and comments on the Hail Mary.”

Virtually the Whole Structure of the Catechism
“The content of the Doctor Angelicus’ preaching corresponds with virtually the whole structure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Actually, in catechesis and preaching, in a time like ours of renewed commitment to evangelization, these fundamental subjects should never be lacking: what we believe, and here is the Creed of the faith; what we pray, and here is the Our Father and the Hail Mary; and what we live, as we are taught by biblical Revelation, and here is the law of the love of God and neighbour and the Ten Commandments, as an explanation of this mandate of love.”

7. Aquinas on Faith

“I would like to propose some simple, essential and convincing examples of the content of St Thomas’ teaching. In his booklet on The Apostles’ Creed he explains the value of faith. Through it, he says, the soul is united to God and produces, as it were, a shot of eternal life; life receives a reliable orientation and we overcome temptations with ease. To those who object that faith is foolishness because it leads to belief in something that does not come within the experience of the senses, St Thomas gives a very articulate answer and recalls that this is an inconsistent doubt, for human intelligence is limited and cannot know everything. Only if we were able to know all visible and invisible things perfectly would it be genuinely foolish to accept truths out of pure faith. Moreover, it is impossible to live, St Thomas observes, without trusting in the experience of others, wherever one’s own knowledge falls short. It is thus reasonable to believe in God, who reveals himself, and to the testimony of the Apostles: they were few, simple and poor, grief-stricken by the Crucifixion of their Teacher. Yet many wise, noble and rich people converted very soon after hearing their preaching. In fact this is a miraculous phenomenon of history, to which it is far from easy to give a convincing answer other than that of the Apostle’s encounter with the Risen Lord.”

8. Aquinas on the Incarnation

“In commenting on the article of the Creed on the Incarnation of the divine Word St Thomas makes a few reflections. He says that the Christian faith is strengthened in considering the mystery of the Incarnation; hope is strengthened at the thought that the Son of God came among us, as one of us, to communicate his own divinity to human beings; charity is revived because there is no more obvious sign of God’s love for us than the sight of the Creator of the universe making himself a creature, one of us. Finally, in contemplating the mystery of God’s Incarnation, we feel kindled within us our desire to reach Christ in glory. Using a simple and effective comparison, St Thomas remarks: “If the brother of a king were to be far away, he would certainly long to live beside him. Well, Christ is a brother to us; we must therefore long for his company and become of one heart with him.”7

9. Aquinas on the Pater Noster

“In presenting the prayer of the Our Father, St Thomas shows that it is perfect in itself, since it has all five of the characteristics that a well-made prayer must possess: trusting, calm abandonment; a fitting content because, St Thomas observes, “it is quite difficult to know exactly what it is appropriate and inappropriate to ask for, since choosing among our wishes puts us in difficulty” (ibid., p. 120); and then an appropriate order of requests, the fervour of love and the sincerity of humility.”

10. Aquinas on the Triclinium totius Trinitatis

“Like all the Saints, St Thomas had a great devotion to Our Lady. He described her with a wonderful title: Triclinium totius Trinitatis; triclinium, that is, a place where the Trinity finds rest since, because of the Incarnation, in no creature as in her do the three divine Persons dwell and feel delight and joy at dwelling in her soul full of Grace. Through her intercession we may obtain every help.”

11. Final Benediction

“With a prayer that is traditionally attributed to St Thomas and that in any case reflects the elements of his profound Marian devotion we too say:

“O most Blessed and sweet Virgin Mary, Mother of God… I entrust to your merciful heart… my entire life…. Obtain for me as well, O most sweet Lady, true charity with which from the depths of my heart I may love your most Holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and, after him, love you above all other things… and my neighbour, in God and for God.”

  1. Address in honour of St Thomas Aquinas in the Basilica, 14 September 1974; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, [ore], 26 September 1974, p. 4 []
  2. Address to people in the Square at Aquino, 14 September 1974; ORE, p. 5 []
  3. cf. Jean-Pierre Torrell, La “Summa” di San Tommaso, Milan 2003, pp. 29-75 []
  4. cf. Summa Theologiae, Ia q. 1, a. 7 []
  5. ibid.,I, q. 2 []
  6. cf. Commentary on John, chapter 6, lecture 6, n. 963 []
  7. Opuscoli teologico-spirituali, Rome 1976, p. 64 []