We Catholics often call Mary our Mother and rightly so. But how is she in fact our Mother? Granted, Jesus announced her as our Mother when he said to John from the Cross, “Behold your Mother.” (John 19:27) John represents every disciple and hence when Jesus declares Mary to be his Mother, he also speaks to us” Behold your Mother. But still the question of how is she our mother. Jesus does not simply declare her to be so in some arbitrary way, as a sort of nice thought.
As you might suspect there is something more at work here. The most straight forward theological answer is simply this: Mary is our mother because she is the Mother of Jesus and we, by baptism are incorporated into Jesus. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. (1 Cor 12:27) . Jesus is the head of the body, the Church. (Col 1:18) But if Mary gave birth to the head of the Body of Christ she also gave birth to the rest of the Body of Christ (us). What mother do you know who ever gave birth to the head of her child but not the rest of that child’s body? So if Mary is the Mother of the head of the Body, she is also mother to the members of the body. Why? Because of Christ is one and we are one in Christ. Hence Mary is Mother of Jesus, we are in Jesus, Mary is thus our Mother. It is not some mere sentimental thing. It is a real motherhood.
What is the best gift you can give your mother on Mother’s Day? Scripture surely gives the best answer: Let her who bore you rejoice. (Proverbs 23:25) In other words the best gift we can give our mothers is to live a life that would make them proud. The Blessed Mother has told us what she wants: Do whatever he (my Son) tells you. (John 2:5)
So the flowers may be nice, the dinner, a phone call, all nice but the best gift for our mothers is a beautiful and holy life.
Enjoy this beautiful video which is a tribute to our mothers:
There are a lot of “Solos” sung by our Protestant brethren: Sola Fide (saved by faith alone); Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone is the rule of faith); sola gratia(grace works alone). (See the Protestant Logo to the right). Generally one ought to be suspicious and careful of claims that things work alone. It is our usual experience that things work together in harmony with other things and are interrelated.
Hence faith alone is rejected by the Bible itself as an unreality. Faith without works is dead (James 2:26) It is not really faith at all since faith does not exist all by itself but always present with and works through love. Galatians 5:6 says: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love. Hence faith works not alone, but through love. Further as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13:2 if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. Hence faith alone is a null set, it is nothing in that it does not exist. True faith is never alone, it bears the fruit of love and works of holiness. Beware the soloists who cry “faith alone” and ask where faith, all by itself can be found.
As for grace alone, this too is a puzzling claim since grace builds on nature. You and I may have grace, but it works through our human nature to have its effects. Hence one who has the grace to preach must use his mind, voice, lungs etc. One who sings well must do the same. Even the grace of holiness builds on our nature since we called to be holy in a human way. It is our humanity that must be transformed: our mind, heart, attitudes and behavior. Even to the extent that we manifest the holiness of God we cannot forget that we are made in the image and likeness of God. So again beware the soloists. Human nature is not depraved but wounded and grace is not alone, it works with and builds on our nature and heals it.
Finally beware the soloists who say Sola Scriptura! Namely the claimthat Scripture alone is the measure of faith and the sole authority for the Christian. There are several problems with this. First, Scripture as we know it (with the full New Testament) was not fully assembled and agreed upon until the 4th Century and it was Catholic Bishops in union with the Pope who made the decision as to what books belonged in the Bible. The early Christians could not possibly live by sola scriptura. Secondly, until recently most peoplecould not read. Kind of strange that God would make a book the sole rule of faith. Even today large numbers of people in the world still cannot read well. Thirdly, and most importantly, if all you have is a book that book still needs to be interpreted accurately. Without a valid and recognized interpreter the book can well serve to divide more than unite. It this not the experience of Protestantism which now has tens of thousands of denominations all claiming to read the same Bible but interpreting it in rather different manners? The problem is if no one is Pope everyone is Pope! Protestantism claims that everyone alone with a Bible and the Holy Spirit can authentically interpret Scripture. Well then why does the Holy Spirit tell some that baptism is necessary for salvation and to others no. Why the Holy Spirit tell some that the Eucharist really is Christ body and blood and others only a symbol? Why does the Holy Spirit say to some Protestants “Once saved always saved” and to others, “No” ?? So you see Scripture is not meant to be alone. Scripture itself says this in 2 Peter 3:16 our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, Our Brother Paul speaking of these things [the Last things] as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.So Scripture warns that it is quite possible to mis-interpret Scripture. Well then, were is the truth to be found? The Scriptures once again answer this: you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth. (1 Tim 3:15) Hence Scriptures are not to be read alone. They are a document of the Lord through the Church and must be read in the context of the Church and withthe Church’s authoritative interpretation and Tradition. As this quote says, The CHURCH is the pillar and foundation of the truth.
So beware of the soloists. Scripture is the most authoritative and precious document of the Church but it emanates from the Church’s Tradition and must be understood in the light of it. Further, faith is not alone but works through love, grace is not alone but builds on nature.
Here is a brief video where Pope Benedict reminds us that we must read Scripture not alone, but in union with the Living Tradition of the Church.
Now if I were to ask you if the Kyrie Eleison (Translated “Lord Have Mercy”) were part of the Penitential Rite most likely you’d say “Of course it is.” After all we are asking God’s mercy. But interestingly enough it serves more as an acclamation of praise both historically and liturgically as we shall see.
The History of the Kyrie – the Kyrie is often thought of as a part of the penitential rite but this is not necessarily the case. The General instruction describes it this way: “After the penitential act the Kyrie Eleison is begun unless it has already been used in the penitential act. It is a song in which the faithful acclaim the Lord and ask for his mercy therefore it is usually to be sung by all, that is by the congregation as well as the schola or cantor.” Hence the Kyrie may or may not be a part of the penitential rite. As we shall see in its origins, the Kyrie is historically more a hymn of praise than a penitential act.
The early history may be seen in pagan antiquity. There was the custom of imploring the help of the gods with the phrase “eleison.” Likewise, the phrase was used in reference to the emperor. A singer would announce some praise of the emperor and the people would respond with this or another cry of homage. However, there are also scriptural roots in the Old Testament. For example, in the Greek translation of the O.T. (the Septuagint) there are many phrases particularly in the psalms such as, “eleison me Kyrie.” (Have mercy on me Lord) (Psalm 6:2 inter al.) Also in the New Testament there are many places where the phrase is used: Son of David have mercy on us. This phrase is indeed quite common in the N.T. Nevertheless Kyrie litanies where not common in the Church until after the Age of Constantine (4th century) likely due to their connections with paganism. After the persecutions ended and paganism move to the background it was deemed appropriate to use these forms of courtly honor to honor the Lord.
The entrance of the Kyrie into widespread use in the Church may be described as follows. The practice was first reported in use in Jerusalem wherein the phrase “Kyrie Eleison” was sung in response to a series of petitions sung by a deacon. This practice was noted both within Mass (where it took place after the Gospel) and outside of Mass (for example at Vespers). The practice was brought back to the West probably by returning pilgrims and it was considered widely appealing. Eventually its use came to be quite universal in the Church. In some areas it was located at the beginning of Mass while in other areas it had its place after the Gospel. Eventually it came to be generally located at the beginning of mass. It was specifically introduced into the Mass by Pope Gelasius in the later half of the 5th century. The form of the Kyrie was retained as a litany of praise and supplication before God and these prayers grew in elaborateness. You can see the Kyrie Litany of Gelasius HERE .
In a desire to simplify and shorten the liturgy, Pope Gregory the Great in the early 7th century removed the prayers and kept only responses Kyrie eleison and Christe eleison. First this was done only on ordinary days, leaving the prayers on more solemn feast. Later their use faded completely leaving only the responses. The Kyrie responses were said at first only by the people. But gradually the priest and the people began to alternate, responding back and forth with a nine-fold response (KKK,CCC,KKK). Gradually the singing of these became more elaborate and tended to be done by a choir of trained singers. In the Tridentine mass the Kyrie was recited by the priest alternating with the servers in the ninefold Kyrie. In solemn Mass it was also sung by the Choir or schola. But it was NOT considered part of the penitential rite which had take place at the foot of the Altar and was separated from the penitential rite by several things: the ascent of the altar steps, kissing the altar, possibly incensing it, making the sing of cross to begin Mass, reading the Introit (entrance song) and only then reciting the Kyrie.
Today it is returned to having the priest and people alternate in what is usually a sixfold Kyrie. There is also the option of introducing the Kyrie into the penitential rite in which case it is returned to its older litany-like form with certain petitions and/or praises attached to each Kyrie and Christe.
Complicated enough?? The Kyrie has somewhat of a dual personality. It may serve either as a penitential rite or a hymn of praise. However, even when it is used as a penitential act, we still give glory to God on account of his great mercy. The history of the Kyrie Litany gives rise to an appreciation of the source of our practice today of the intercessory prayers after the Creed (sometimes called the “prayer of the faithful”). In fact, it should be remembered that the response “Kyrie Eleison” may in fact be made instead of “Lord hear our prayer.” More will be said of this later on.
Here is a polyphonic Kyrie, a Kyrie in Gregorian Chant, and a Modern Kyrie litany:
We live today with very high expectations of many things. Culturally we have very demanding standards for beauty, especially in regard to women. We expect them to have appealing “curves” but be slender etc. Even ordinary weight is considered by many as unattractive. All this obsession with perfection leads to low self esteem among women and men too. Further, these high expectations of zero body fat and perfect shape, hair color, skin tone etc. leads to hypercritical and hurtful remarks. There is an old saying that “expectations are premeditated resentments.” Hence this attitude also may have to do with marriage difficulties as the near perfect bodies of youth give way to the more “settled” bodies of middle age and beyond (gravity and age do have their effects and even if you weighed what you did in High School it doesn’t look the same!) Plastic surgery is a miracle for those with truly catastrophic injury or deformities but today it is too often the refuge of those who have become obsessed with how they look and how they think others regard them. Oh to be free of such obsessions! The picture to the right depicts a woman but men have the problem too.
Help me Lord to be little more comfortable in my own skin. Help me to accept that you like both tall and short people because you made them both. Both the blond and the brunette are from your hand, wavy hair, straight hair wirey hair are all from you and apparently to your liking. Thin and hefty, black, white and all between are from your artistic hand. Help me to love me as you made me. If I should lose weight for health’s sake help me, but if its only about what others might think of me, free me.
Watch this video and see how a very lovely young woman is not lovely enough. She has to be altered, “perfected.” And when simple natural enhancements are not enough her image must be furthered altered on a computer. Message: the perfect beauty does not exist in the world of media. She must be invented. Then everyone can pine after and spend large amounts of money and time trying look like someone who doesn’t even exist.