Blessed Is She Who Believed

Feast of the Assumption: Luke 1:39-56

What is your greatest achievement?

Do you find this question difficult to answer? Do you wonder if anything you have done can be called “great”? Would you feel embarrassed to even try to answer such a question? After all, most of us will never lead an army to victory in a historically significant battle, or write a book that will change the way everyone thinks, or find a cure for some previously incurable disease. One can think of similar achievements that most people would call great. However, would any of these, as impressive as they may be, be our greatest achievement even if we actually did one of these?  Continue reading “Blessed Is She Who Believed”

The Servant of the Lord

Fifth Sunday of Easter (A): John 14:1-12

This weekend offers us a fascinating conjunction of meaning and symbolism. Today, May 13, marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima. The month of May has, traditionally, been associated with the Blessed Virgin. As if that weren’t enough, tomorrow, May 14, is Mother’s Day.

The Scripture readings for this Sunday do not speak of Mary explicitly. However, these readings (and the Gospel in particular) offer us a context in which we can more clearly see certain aspects of Mary’s role and how they harmonize with and point to the central role of her Son.  Continue reading “The Servant of the Lord”

Breaking Trail

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  Luke 2:19

“You can ask about it, but nobody knows the way; no breadcrumb trail to follow through your days… It’s a matter of getting deeper in, any way you can.” All This Beauty by the Weepies

If you’ve done much snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, you know that the most challenging thing you can do is break trail – that is, to go where no one else has yet gone and make your own trail in the snow. It requires a lot of energy, and you will tire quickly if you don’t pace yourself. Once trail is broken, it’s much easier to go back the way you came, or to use the trail you just made the next day. Breaking trail, however, is serious work.   Continue reading “Breaking Trail”

Am I Not Your Mother?

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Christopher Columbus died in 1506, still convinced that the lands he had seen on his voyages west from Spain were islands just off the east coast of Asia. By this time, however, other explorers were beginning to suspect something else: that they had come upon a continent hitherto unknown to anyone in the “Old World”, with peoples hitherto unknown. Some came to these lands with the idea of bringing the Catholic faith to these peoples. Others had visions of wealth and fame for themselves and for Spain, and sought to exploit the native peoples for these purposes. Soon, there were debates in the Spanish universities over the question of whether these “Indians” had souls. Some, like Bartolome de las Casas, forcefully defended the native peoples. Others argued that, since these peoples could not be traced to the three sons of Noah, they could not be truly human and therefore did not have souls.

This was not some merely academic dispute. If these native peoples were seen as not truly human, therefore any Christian notions of love or human dignity did not apply to them. They could be exploited without any qualms of conscience.  Continue reading “Am I Not Your Mother?”

Full Of Grace

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

In the years following the writing of the books of the New Testament, a number of other writings appeared in Christian circles. Some of these offered to tell their readers “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey famously said in his radio broadcasts. These books promised to fill in what was missing in the Biblical accounts.  Continue reading “Full Of Grace”