Posted by: Thomas Richard | January 13, 2020

Church, Behold Your Mother

In his homily that was given in a recent Mass on the great importance of Baptism (in fact, on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord), the priest likened this first and primary sacrament (the necessary door to all the other sacraments) to the operating system of a computer. Personally, I could understand what he was saying, and how he could come to such a comparison, but I was saddened by it all the same. Yes, as the baptismal graces provide a necessary foundation for the fruitful operation of the graces of all the other sacraments, so also the operating system of a computer provides a corresponding foundation for any and all other particular programs (or, “apps”, nowadays) to work their particular functions in the computer.

But – There is a problem with making up an analogy between a supernatural reality (sanctifying grace) and a natural one (computer software), if you’re not God. Jesus could use parables, and He used many, to point to supernatural truths, but He IS God. When we try to use His methods, we can come across badly and even end up pointing not to the supernatural truth, but away from it. Sanctifying grace is a gift of God, from God: a human participation in His divine life! Computer software is a fabrication of men and women, a tool having a brief working life, part of a human economy of things and money, buying and selling and soon to pass away. Do thoughts of such things point us in mind and heart to God – or are they more distractions coming from the world, requiring of us more effort to turn away from them, to begin again to seek to hear and ponder the supernatural, spiritual things of God?

So many opportunities are missed, in homilies. The Church stresses the need for the laity to deeply hear the Word of God – indeed to hear God, in His words, communicated by the homilist, in his words. So many homilists, it seems, concern themselves with being acceptable to the men and women in front of them. Was this the concern of Jesus? Is this the concern of Jesus? Ought this be the concern of the homilist?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote much from his fertile heart, from a deep reservoir of wisdom within him, the fruit of profound pondering and reflection in silence. It is a treasure of the Church, such gifted members, who enrich so many over the centuries of salvation history. While some members are perpetually busily filling the moments of their lives often imprudently, others are pondering in silence the treasures of life, and are growing in wisdom. We need to hear the wisdom of God! We need to hear the Word of God! We need to escape the empty noise of the world, the light-hearted platitudes, the pandering and banalities. Enough of this, please! In the Holy Place of God – in the Presence of our Resurrected Lord waiting in the Tabernacle, let us hear what is fitting for Him, in His Holy House of prayer.

In the educational system, it is called the great dumbing-down. On the streets we call it brutalization, the loss of civility. In the political system we call it the deepening chasm between parties with whom there is no longer possible compromise. What do we call what has happened to our Church? How can we put into words, the loss of unction? The seeping and creeping in of the secular, the worldly, in the innermost rooms and moments of the Church! What has happened, to the Holy Place of the People of God?

Of this, the Pope Emeritus wrote:

It is, I believe, no coincidence, given our Western, masculine mentality, that we have increasingly separated Christ from His Mother, without grasping that Mary’s motherhood might have some significance for theology and faith. This attitude characterizes our whole approach to the Church. We treat the Church almost like some technological device that we plan and make with enormous cleverness and expenditure of energy. Then we are surprised when we experience the truth of what Saint Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort once remarked, paraphrasing the words of the prophet Haggai, when he said, “You do much, but nothing comes of it”! (Hag I:6) When making becomes autonomous, the things we cannot make but that are alive and need time to mature can no longer survive.

What we need, then, is to abandon this one-sided, Western activistic outlook, lest we degrade the Church to a product of our creation and design. The Church is not a manufactured item, she is, rather, the living seed of God that must be allowed to grow and ripen. This is why the Church needs the Marian mystery, this is why the Church herself is a Marian mystery. There can be fruitfulness in the Church only when she has this character, when she becomes holy soil for the Word. We must retrieve the symbol of the fruitful soil, we must once more become waiting, inwardly recollected people who in the depth of prayer, longing, and faith give the Word room to grow.
[from Mary – The Church at the Source, H.U. von Balthasar and J. Card. Ratzinger, Ignatius Press 2005, p. 16-17.]

May the Church have ears to hear.


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks so much for this first blog article of the year 2020, glorifying Jesus through Mary — our Mother — whom He gave us from His Cross, saying:

    “Behold your Mother”.

    How the Church needs to hear these words more deeply than ever before in her history! The hatred of satan for Mary and her children grows more intense as time grows shorter. I believe God gave Pope Emeritus “ears to hear and eyes to see with his heart” the truth he wrote, and you shared today:

    “…The Church is not a manufactured item, she is, rather, the living seed of God that must be allowed to grow and ripen. This is why the Church needs the Marian mystery, this is why the Church herself is a Marian mystery. There can be fruitfulness in the Church only when she has this character, when she becomes holy soil for the Word…we must once more become waiting, inwardly recollected people who in the depth of prayer, longing and faith. give the Word room to grow.”

    May the Church hear and obey Jesus’ Words, as the Beloved Disciple John heard and obeyed on Calvary. May we take Mary into their lives.

  2. Thomas, this is a beautiful blog entry. I am particularly blessed by the last paragraph. The Marian Mystery. Jesus in His mother’s womb grew and matured until He was ready to be born. We the Church, the body of Christ, should also be growing and maturing within His mother, waiting for His return. I have much to ponder on this. Most Holy Mother of God, have mercy on us, and pray for us.

    • Dear Susan,

      Thanks for sharing your beautiful insights! It was a joy to read your comment. Yes, we the Church need to ponder this Marian Mystery — ever growing by God’s Grace!

    • Hello Susan – That mystery: the spiritual motherhood of Mary, the forming of Christ’s Body (the Church) within her, in some way as His personal human body was formed, is a powerful and attractive mystical insight. We the Church of today have a lot to listen to, and to learn, from Mary. I am sorry to see and to say that Mary is widely marginalized – neglected – overlooked – in the Church of today. There is much that we all need to see, and hear, and learn!

  3. Modernization of the Catholic Church

     Pope Pius X in his 1907 document Lamentabili Sane from the Holy Office condemned the following Modernist proposition (with many others akin to it): “Truth is no more unchangeable than man himself, since it evolves with him, in him, and through him.” As Cardinal Mercier wrote in the same year: “Modernism consists essentially in affirming that the religious soul must draw from itself, from nothing but itself, the object and motive of its faith. It rejects all revelation imposed upon the conscience, and thus, as a necessary consequence, becomes the negation of the doctrinal authority of the Church established by Jesus Christ, and it denies, moreover, to the divinely constituted hierarchy the right to govern Christian society.”

    I suggest everyone look this up and read it. I feel Vatican 2 was the finish of what started back over a hundered years ago to modernize the Catholic Church and the Mass. I think I even read in the book Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within by Taylor Marshall that Pope Pius X made the statement do not ever let a piano into the Catholic Mass. Now look at how we have destroyed our music liturgy.

    These modernists now have the Pope they worked so long to get who by the way has 53% of the Cardinals vote.

    Thomas as you remember we first met several years ago when I had just returned to the Catholic Church. You were my first teacher to start me on my way back to really learning my faith. I have made it my goal to learn as much about it in the short time I have left before I hopefully go to the eternal life.

    When I came back to the church I was surprised at how irreverent the new mass was and since have communicated with several priests and a bishop and have not gotten much support.

    I have finally found the reverent mass in a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Traditional Latin Mass. This Church and many like it in the United States was approved by Pope Benectic XVI in 2007. I will tell you they are not afraid to teach the true Catholic Faith from the pulplit.

    I think there is a possiblity that if our present Pope continues this direction we could have a split in the Western Church. Of course I would not put it past our present Pope to disapprove the Latin Mass after Pope Benedic XVI dies.

    • Hello Fran – and thank you for your comments on this blog essay. It is a blessing that you found – from God’s provision – celebrations of His Holy Mass offered in rightful and due reverence! Reverence is due – it is owed – reverence ought to permeate and immerse the entire sanctuary and all the members in it, lay and clergy, in every Mass, every time. Every Mass ought to be celebrated – and participated in by all the members – in greater and greater intensity and completeness.

      Writing of the Eucharist in particular (although this ought to be true for every part and element of the Mass), in the context of St. Thomas Aquinas’s writings on this matter, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange wrote, “each Communion ought to be more fervent than the preceding one.” (This from his book, The Priest in Union with Christ by Garrigou-Lagrange.)

  4. After saying my morning rosary, it came to me how simple and moving it is to listen to the mysteries of the rosary & understand why Mary wanted us to say it daily. Each mystery tells us the whole story of the life of Jesus and what he has given us. If we listen, we don’t need all the technology & many of the material things of this world. These mysteries get us through each day with spirituality.

    • Thank you, Janet, for your comment and your witness of the beauty and power of the Rosary. It is such a simple gift, as you say, and yet a simple way to a matter of infinite importance – to remain close to Him, in His full saving work among us today.


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