Some (Correct) Assumptions about Mary

assumption

[uh-suhmp-shuh n]
noun
1. something taken for granted; a supposition:
a correct assumption.
Synonyms: presupposition; hypothesis, conjecture, guess, postulate, theory.
2. Ecclesiastical.
a. the bodily taking up into heaven of the Virgin Mary.
b. a feast commemorating this, celebrated on August 15.
(Dictionary.com 2017)

assumptionThe Feast of the Assumption celebrates the dogma that the Church holds, stated in the Catechism as “The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of His Body (974).”

Mary is always the woman who goes before us, the Mother who beckons us as she would beckon a toddler taking their first steps, to rise and walk towards her arms. She does this from Heaven, body and soul, smiling at us, holding out her arms and showing us that her joy is for us to follow in her footsteps, arriving in Heaven with her as well. Msgr. Charles Pope wrote in his blog, Communion in Mission, Continue reading

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So real it’s a dream

dreamI just woke up from a six week long dream. Not a one of those dreams where you are asleep – one where it is more real than you could have imagined.

Growing up in an Italian-American family, I’ve envisioned Italy and the Italian culture with a gilded tint for as long as I can remember. Actually going there was on another level altogether. So when this summer I was assigned to an apostolate that would bring me to Italy for the first time, I definitely felt like I was dreaming- even more so because there were only a few short exam-filed weeks between when I found out I would be going there and my arrival. It felt surreal all the way up until I arrived to the airport in Milan and heard people actually speaking in Italian. Continue reading

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Fifth Gospel Ponderings: The Motherhood of Mary Magdalene?

magdalene

Living in the “Fifth Gospel”, the Holy Land, tantalizes the imagination.  Recently it brought about a line of thought I never imagined my mind would take.  I asked the question: When we think of the exalted vocation of motherhood, we immediately think of Mary, the Mother of Jesus as model.  But could we look to Mary of Magdala as a woman with an expansive maternal heart?   What ultimately constitutes “motherhood”, beyond the evident physical bearing of children?  John Paul II summed it up for me:

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way… Our time in particular awaits the manifestation of that “genius” which belongs to every woman, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance (Mulieris Dignitatem 30).

Mary, the Mother of God is a model of sensitivity for all persons in all circumstances.  Her sensitivity to the human details at the wedding of Cana becomes a catalyst for launching Jesus’ public ministry where we see the fecundity of a Mother’s request: a transformation of water to wine.  Her bleeding and suffering heart accompanies her Son to the foot of the cross, bearing fruit in her vocation as universal Mother of the Church.  The body of Jesus taken down from the cross and received by his Mother summons up the image of the Mystical Body of Christ embraced by the New Eve. Continue reading

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Genetic modification – or mutilation?

geneticGenetic modification is nothing new.  Some might call it miraculous.

The practice started a few thousand years before the birth of Christ.  If a farmer grew corn, he would plant seeds from the hardiest plants that produce the most.  If a herder wanted to improve his flock, he would breed the strongest ram with the fattest ewe to produce better lambs.

Of course, things got more sophisticated in the past several decades.  The first genetically modified plants appeared in the 1980s.  We got better corn, cheese, potatoes and cotton.  In the past couple years, we got modified animals approved for consumption, notably faster-growing salmon. Continue reading

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Getting to know Edith

This week is remarkable for the feasts of St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross- Edith Stein.  One was an image of Christ laying down his life for his friends- the pinnacle of manhood according to the New Testament, the other a convert and philosopher who explored and lived the Christian identity of a woman deeply.

edithThe people closest to you have a tremendous influence on who you are and on your worldview.  I would have loved to have been best friends with Edith Stein. Thanks to the communion of saints, she has become very close to me as a role model, teacher and spiritual friend.  How cool that God can create friendships outside of time between people connected in prayer.

Born into an observant Jewish family, she went from there to Atheism to Catholicism and Holy Orders as a Carmelite nun.  As an intellectual atheist running in the academic circles of Germany, she excelled but realized the unending emptiness at the bottom of her intellectual pursuits. There was a lingering question mark at the end of all of her research and writing that she couldn’t find the answer to. She sought truth and explored the theories on the identity of woman with such intellectual honesty that when she came across the Autobiographical Life of Teresa of Avila, she would decisively declare “This is truth.” And she didn’t look back.  She hadn’t just been seeking truth itself, but Truth Himself.  Becoming Catholic at the age of 31, She didn’t see her baptism as a conversion from Judaism, but as a fulfillment of it. Continue reading

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Back to school – and prayer

prayerThe summer is quickly coming to a close- almost as quickly as it began. For some of us, including the parents and teachers among us, the end of summer means one thing: back to school.

This is a bittersweet moment: it marks the end of carefree family time, enjoying fewer stresses and pressures than during the rest of the year; but it also marks the return to routine! After a two-month break, many parents know “It’s time” to return to school- to channel all that creativity more into learning rather than antics. Continue reading

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The Gaze of Mercy

“When you give me your sins, you give me the joy of being your savior.”

from a prayer by the Missionaries of Charity inspired by the words of Christ to St Teresa of Calcutta

mercy

(Artwork by Fr. Celso Pôrto Nogueira based on traditional portraits of Jesus overlaid with the Shroud of Turin)

In a quiet church on a Saturday afternoon, I pray and prepare myself for confession.  In my soul, Christ lifts my gaze to meet his. I look into the eyes of Mercy.  I know myself best in these moments because His love shows me who I am.

I offer my whole self to him, including my misery and my weakness, as a sacrifice to his merciful love. A holocaust he can burn up completely in His heart which contains the flames of mercy that the world rejects and that he longs to give.  In this offering I thank him for all he has given me and give it back to him, and I look at the all ways I have not lived as who I truly am in him. I do my examination of conscience, one-by-one counting out the betrayals of his love I have made, the large and small pieces of silver I have sold my heart for… this heart that belongs to him, that has always belonged to him but that I stole back to sell for what seemed more attractive in the moment. Continue reading

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The Message of the Day

messageHave I got a deal for you!

You can get a daily video message from Pope Francis to inform and inspire you.  It comes in English, Spanish or Portuguese.  I promise it will be professionally produced, high quality and last little more than a minute.  (Yes, even those of you with attention deficit issues will enjoy it.)

Did I mention it is free?  It is…really.  And that probably makes you wonder who would (or could) do such a thing. Continue reading

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Beyond Charlie

charlieNaked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD. – Job 1:21

I have of late thought much of death.  It isn’t personal; no dread diseases beset me, no dangerous journeys lie in my immediate future.

It is to Charlie Gard’s credit that I consider who ultimately owns life and death.  Is it the doctors who treated him?  Is it the judge who denied his parents the freedom to travel overseas for further treatment?  Is it the well-intentioned bureaucracy of British health care? Is it his parents?  Continue reading

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Mary Magdalene: Icon of Hope

magdalene

Giacomao Galli, The Penitent Mary Magdalene

I’ve had the privilege of living in Magdala, the ancient first-century hometown of Mary Magdalene, for three years, where we have received more than 200,000 visitors.  And with that comes a multitude of opinions about Mary Magdalene.  I have read every theory under the sun about this woman, and marvel that every year, the social media continue to discuss this enigmatic figure.  I ask myself:  if she could come and do this interview or call the shots on the movie scenes, what would she say?  What essential message would she leave her viewers?  And from that, what would be our take away?  I believe she would tell the story of dignity restored.  And from her own story, we could paint her as an icon of hope.

Our starting point is the scriptural record that she was possessed by seven demons.  Interpretations of this abound, from a real possession to a psychological illness.  Considering the human person as an entity of body and soul, can we assume that the influence of evil spirits becomes manifest in the corporeal and psychological realm?  Scriptures testify to a real battle taking place between the Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God.  Jesus preaches repentance for the Kingdom of God is at hand.  How were these words received by Mary Magdalene?  What was the soil of her soul upon which these words fell? Continue reading

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