Mary

An Eastern Orthodox Christian wrote to complain about, or to see how we Catholics explain the Immaculate Conception. He said he had asked many Catholics and none could answer. I find that hard to believe.

After I answered his long and slightly edgy e-mail, I received his response – “Thanks.”

Picture One: Statue of Mary in Nazareth entitled “Mary of Nazareth” which is one of my favorites! Second picture is me falling in the mud in our documentary “Mary, Mother of God” when I explained the Immaculate Conception.

Here are the Eastern Orthodoxes two questions, and my simple answers:

mary_nazareth2HIS QUESTION: If Mary the Mother of God was born without original sin, and was pure and could not sin, then how could she have possibly said “No” to God’s messenger, the Archangel Gabriel? Why were God and the angels “holding their collective breaths” (as the Basilica of the Annunciation notes in Nazareth) if they knew that she was going to have to say “Yes”, because she could not deny God’s will, which would have been a sin?

MY RESPONSE: REMEMBER THAT THE FIRST EVE WAS ALSO “CONCEIVED IMMACULATELY” — SHE WAS SINLESS, WITHOUT THE STAIN OF ORIGINAL SIN OR ANY ACTUAL SIN. YET, SHE WAS ABLE TO CHOSE SIN. MARY, THE 2ND EVE COULD ALSO HAVE SAID NO TO GOD AND SINNED, JUST LIKE THE FIRST “IMMACULATELY CONCEIVED” EVE. THAT IS WHY MARY IS SO SPECIAL —- SHE RESISTED SIN LIKE THE FIRST EVE DIDN’T DO. EVE TIED THE KNOT OF SIN; MARY UNTIED IT.

HIS QUESTION: By declaring the Immaculate Conception, suddenly, Mary the Mother of God became very unlike us; her purity became unachievable for us mere mortals born with “original sin”; and she became a model of Godliness that we can never achieve on earth. The best human example of humility and obedience that Christians had been able to strive towards for 1,800 years was taken away and transformed into a something different, something suprahuman.

Steve_Closeup_mud@600MY RESPONSE: NOTHING HAS BEEN TAKEN AWAY. SHE WAS GIVEN SANCTIFYING GRACE AT THE MOMENT OF CONCEPTION, THE REST OF US NINE MONTHS LATER AT OUR INFANT BAPTISM. SHE COULD HAVE SINNED, BUT DIDN’T. WE CAN AVOID SIN BUT DON’T. THAT IS WHY CATHOLICS LOVE HER. BEING IMMACULATELY CONCEIVED DID NOT MAKE HER SUPERHUMAN; RATHER IT MAKES HER TRULY HUMAN IN THE FULL SENSE OF THE WORD, A MODEL FOR US ALL TO STRIVE FOR.

SHE NEEDED A SAVIOR (“MY SPIRIT REJOICES IN GOD MY SAVIOR”) LIKE WE DO BUT FOR HE PREVENTED HER FROM FALLING INTO THE MUD WHEREAS WE’VE ALL BEEN SAVED BY BEING PULLED OUT AND CLEANED UP.

EVEN THE ORTHODOX REFER TO MARY AS THE ALL HOLY ONE. IT IS REALLY THE SAME THING, JUST CATHOLICS GAVE IT A FORMAL DEFINITION.

HOPE THAT HELPS. HAPPY EASTER.

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Presentation at the Temple by Tatian

Join us this year on our Holy Land pilgrimages or St. Paul Mediterranean Cruise or next year on a pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal, Avila in Spain and Lourdes in France or to see the Italy, Rome and the Holy Shroud of Turin. Visit http://www.footprintsofgodpilgrimages.com/upcoming-pilgrimages

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“The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it is known in the West), or The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple (its name in the East), is a liturgical feast celebrated on November 21 by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Orthodox Churches.

“The feast is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow…. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God. Joseph was then chosen to be her caretaker.” (Wikipedia)

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This document about the birth and infancy of Mary was written in the early 2nd century and known and loved by the first Christians. It is the source for the names of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna. It is fascinating.

I have only provided the first 1/3 of the document. The second part of the document is about Joseph and Mary’s betrothal. The third about the birth of Jesus.  Enjoy the pictures of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the bottom.

The Protoevangelium of James
The Birth of Mary the Holy Mother of God,
and Very Glorious Mother of Jesus Christ

In Honor of the Feast Day of Sts. Joachim and Anna on July 26.

IN THE RECORDS OF THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL was Joachim, a man rich exceedingly; and he brought his offerings double, saying: There shall be of my superabundance to all the people, and there shall be the offering for my forgiveness to the Lord for a propitiation for me. For the great day of the Lord was at hand, and the sons of Israel were bringing their offerings. And there stood over against him Rubim, saying: It is not meet for thee first to bring thine offerings, because thou hast not made seed in Israel. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and went away to the registers of the twelve tribes of the people, saying: I shall see the registers of the twelve tribes of Israel, as to whether I alone have not made seed in Israel. And he searched, and found that all the righteous had raised up seed in Israel. And he called to mind the patriach Abraham, that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and did not come into the presence of his wife; but he retired to the desert, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights, saying in himself: I will not go down either for food or for drink until the Lord my God shall look upon me, and prayer shall be my food and drink.

2. And his wife Anna mourned in two mournings, and lamented in two lamentations, saying: I shall bewail my widowhood; I shall bewail my childlessness. And the great day of the Lord was at hand; and Judith her maid-servant said: How long dost thou humiliate thy soul? Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand, and it is unlawful for thee to mourn. But take this head-band, which the woman that made it gave to me; for it is not proper that I should wear it, because I am a maid-servant, and it has a royal appearance. And Anna said: Depart from me; for I have not done such things, and the Lord has brought me very low. I fear that some wicked person has given it to thee, and thou hast come to make me a sharer in thy sin. And Judith said: Why should I curse thee, seeing that the Lord hath shut thy womb, so as not to give thee fruit in Israel? And Anna was grieved exceedingly, and put off her garments of mourning, and cleaned her head, and put on her wedding garments, and about the ninth hour went down to the garden to walk. And she saw a laurel, and sat under it, and prayed to the Lord, saying: O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as Thou didst bless the womb of Sarah, and didst give her a son Isaac.

3. And gazing towards the heaven, she saw a sparrow’s nest in the laurel, and made a lamentation in herself, saying: Alas! who begot me? and what womb produced me? because I have become a curse in the presence of the sons of Israel, and I have been reproached, and they have driven me in derision out of the temple of the Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the fowls of the heaven, because even the fowls of the heaven are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the beasts of the earth, because even the beasts of the earth are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like these waters, because even these waters are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like this earth, because even the earth bringeth forth its fruits in season, and blesseth Thee, O Lord.

4. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying: Anna, Anna, the Lord hath heard thy prayer, and thou shalt conceive, and shall bring forth; and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world. And Anna said: As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life. And, behold, two angels came, saying to her: Behold, Joachim thy husband is coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord went down to him, saying: Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God hath heard thy prayer Go down hence; for, behold, thy wife Anna shall conceive. And Joachim went down and called his shepherds, saying: Bring me hither ten she-lambs without spot or blemish, and they shall be for the Lord my God; and bring me twelve tender calves, and they shall be for the priests and the elders; and a hundred goats for all the people. And, behold, Joachim came with his flocks; and Anna stood by the gate, and saw Joachim coming, and she ran anti hung upon his neck, saying: Now I know that the Lord God hath blessed me exceedingly; for, behold the widow no longer a widow, and I the childless shall conceive. And Joachim rested the first day in his house.

5. And on the following day he brought his offerings, saying in himself: If the Lord God has been rendered gracious to me, the plate on the priest’s forehead will make it manifest to me. And Joachim brought his offerings, and observed attentively the priest’s plate when he went up to the altar of the Lord, and he saw no sin in himself. And Joachim said: Now I know that the Lord has been gracious unto me, and has remitted all my sins. And he went down from the temple of the Lord justified, and departed to his own house. And her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anna brought forth. And she said to the midwife: What have I brought forth? and she said: A girl. And said Anna: My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anna was purified, and gave the breast to the child, and called her name Mary.

6. And the child grew strong day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother set her on the ground to try whether she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her bosom; and she snatched her up, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, thou shall not walk on this earth until I bring thee into the temple of the Lord. And she made a sanctuary in her bed-chamber, and allowed nothing common or unclean to pass through her. And she called the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and they led her astray. And when she was a year old, Joachim made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel. And Joachim brought the child to the priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it, amen. And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever. And her mother snatched her up, and took her into the sanctuary of her bed-chamber, and gave her the breast. And Anna made a song to the Lord God, saying: I will sing a song to the Lord my God, for He hath looked upon me, and hath taken away the reproach of mine enemies; and the Lord hath given the the fruit of His righteousness, singular in its kind, and richly endowed before Him. Who will tell the sons of Rubim that Anna gives suck? Hear, hear, ye twelve tribes of Israel, that Anna gives suck. And she laid her to rest in the bed-chamber of her sanctuary, and went out and ministered unto them. And when the supper was ended, they went down rejoicing, and glorifying the God of Israel.

Statue in the Church of St. Ann, Mary's birthplace in Jerusalem

7. And her months were added to the child. And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.

8. And her parents went down marvelling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, test perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? And they said to the high priest: Thou standest by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto thee, that also will we do. And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judaea, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran.

Click here for the rest of the document

 

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I put up a post a few days ago with a video of my talk in Ephesus about Mary being Queen of Heaven and an Intercessor for the people of God’s kingdom.

Someone wrote to object saying,

It is interesting Steve, as to what you left out in your reference to 1 Kings 2:19 , Solomon’s Mother did indeed come in to the throne room, Solomon did indeed, rise and bow and have her sit at his right hand. But the Queen Mother’s request was in fact denied, and the first person to go to the Queen Mother with his request was put to death that very day! So much for taking requests to the Queen Mother, doesn’t always work!

I responded,

Let me explain a bit. Solomon is a type of Christ yet Solomon was a sinner. Solomon’s sin does not detract from Jesus’ perfection as the quintessential king of Israel and the Universe.

Every king had a queen but it was never his wife; it was his mother. She was called giborah, great lady and Queen Mother.

Being a sinner and flawed did not detract from the fact that Solomon was a type of Christ. Neither does Bathsheba’s sin and flaws detract from her being a prefigurement of Mary. Solomon and his mother were sinners; Jesus and his mother were not. What Solomon and his mother failed to do; Jesus and his mother do perfectly.

If you use Bathsheba’s sin to diminish Mary, then you must be consistent and use Solomon’s sin to diminish Jesus. Queen mothers were flawed intercessors; the Mother of God is an intercessor without flaw.

I didn’t miss anything.

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Glorious Ephesus: Mass at House of Mary, Bishop Conley’s Homily and more

November 5, 2014

Great day in the city of St. Paul, St. John and where Mary lived. Also the 3rd Ecumenical Council where bishops declared Mary the Mother of God. Also Bishop Conley’s excellent homily during Mass at Mary’s House at Ephesus. Enjoy! Bishop Conley’s Homily at Mary’s House in Ephesus Turkey

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A One-Hour Jaunt through the Rosary Sites

October 21, 2014

I recently did a one-hour radio show with Dina Maria Hale, host of KBVM in Portland Oregon. The title was “Mysteries of the Rosary: Then & Now.” We wanted to give everyone an idea of what the places were like at the time of Mary and Jesus, and what they are like today. We also [...]

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Mary, Ark of the New Covenant

September 23, 2014

Read my article about Mary, typology and reading the Bible with the Fathers of the Church. It was published in Catholic Answers Magazine. Click on the image or HERE for the whole article.

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“Why do you Catholics believe Mary ascended into heaven?”

August 13, 2014

Nice article from LifeTeen: About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?” He said “you Catholics” because he went to a local Bible Church but had been coming to a Life Teen Summer Bible [...]

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Queens in the Old Testament – They Were Mothers

August 13, 2014

While on the radio this morning a man called in to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary from the Old Testament was wrong. I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother to Queen of the Kingdom was the ONLY case of a mother being queen in the Old Testament. [...]

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2nd Joyful Mystery, More Joyful than Most People Realize, Feast of Visitation

May 31, 2014

Today is the Feast of the Visitation. At the Visitation Mary traveled about 100 mile to visit her relative Elizabeth – pregnant! Very few Catholics (and almost no Protestants) understand the Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant with the Word of God inscribed in flesh in her womb. (see Chart below.) Here is [...]

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Do Catholics Worship Mary?

May 11, 2014

A friend named Lenard Alt sent this to me — a response he wrote about an anti-Catholic verbal assault: Is Mary being worshiped as a God or equal to Jesus?  Is this Catholic or Protestant teaching? When people ask you the question, “Why do Catholics worship Mary as God?” there is a fallacy built into [...]

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Do Catholics Worship Mary?

May 7, 2014

In response to the show I did with Drew Mariani on Relevant Radio: I thought it would be a good time to respond to an e-mail I received a while ago. It was a questions from a friend wrote to ask me for my take on Mary. He was corresponding with someone that said Catholics [...]

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Pictures from Nazareth over 100 Years Ago (see the Virgin Mary :-)

March 25, 2014

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation. These pictures are over a hundred years old from Nazareth. Not much changed between then and the first century. When you look at these old pictures and hundreds more I have in a book I purchased in Nazareth (written in Arabic), you can imagine Mary as [...]

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Jeremiah Condemns Worship of Queen of Heaven

February 15, 2014

I recently received an e-mail.  How would you answer this question? Now if I could get past Jeremiah, chapter 44, I’d really be a happy camper, (LOL).  Stumbled on that passage this morning and wondered about the “Queen of Heaven” that the people of Judah were burning incense to.  God sure was mad! Who was this [...]

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Mary a Mediatrix? Isn’t there just One Mediator?

October 30, 2013

The Bible says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). Yet Catholics refer to Mary as a Mediatrix (feminine form of the word mediator). So, isn’t that prima facie evidence that Catholics make up doctrines, worship Mary and disregard the Bible? [...]

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In Rome for Consecration of the World to Mary – Watch My Video

October 13, 2013

Watch my short video on-location below. VATICAN CITY, October 13, 2013 (Zenit.org) – Here is the translation of the prayer of consecration recited by Pope Francis in consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima, with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence we join our voice to that of [...]

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Meaning of Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

September 21, 2013

My non-Christian brother found two paintings at an art show and asked me, “What in the world are these? They seem to have pagan elements. What do they have to do with Jesus and Mary?” Here is my explanation. If you readers have anything to add, please post it in the Comments below. Thanks. Thanks. [...]

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