“Mondays with Mary” – Was the Blessed Virgin Mary the first to see the Resurrected Lord?

In a recent homily at our monthly Latin Mass, my boss and Pastor, made reference to something he once heard – the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection instead of St. Mary Magdalene, as the Gospels proclaim. It was a footnote in his homily more than anything else. As he said it, I thought to myself that I had never heard of such an idea. I just know what the Gospels tell us.

After Mass, Father said he was looking towards me when he said it thinking that I would have heard of it somewhere in my studies and in my writings on Mary via this blog. I told him I had never heard of it and asked him where he read it, but he said he didn’t read it. He heard it somewhere, however, he couldn’t remember where it was specifically.

Not thinking about researching that idea that night, I just came home and wrote on something else. As I was trying to figure out what to write for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I was doing some online searches since I hoped to incorporate Mary with Easter. Not thinking I was going to find anything specific, I came upon an older Catholic website asking that same question I am asking today – Was the Blessed Virgin Mary the first to see the Resurrected Lord?

The website lead me to the Papal Audience of none other than – Pope St. John Paul II!!

Christ Appearing to His Mother – Rogier van der Weyden; Flemish, ca. 1445

Before you read this, I would say – go into it with an open heart. This is not definitive Church doctrine, but something we could reflect and contemplate in our hearts during this Easter Octave. Again, I don’t believe the Catholic Church doctrinally teaches on this point anywhere specifically, I would be interested to know the Orthodox view; but John Paul II gives us the opportunity here to use both our reason and our hearts to discover something about the relationship between Jesus and His Mother we may have never thought happened.

Instead of providing you with the entire text, here is the link to the Vatican website – General Audience – May 21, 1997 – Mary was witness to whole paschal mystery.

Pray about it this week and if questions come up – feel free to write me one in the comment section. I may or may not be able to answer them completely. If you are a Scripture buff, just keep in mind that the Gospels themselves do say that many other things happened which is not recorded in these writings. Could this interaction between Jesus and Mary be one of them? Remember also that the Gospels talk about Jesus appearing after his Resurrection to more than 500 individuals – if such a big event – why wasn’t it recorded either? Something for us to think about then.

Post Script: Just as I was about to publish this post, I found this article from May 2011 on The New Theological Movement.

I hope that you all had a blessed and joyful Easter Sunday and that your Easter Octave is as equally blessed.

“Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom

Since yesterday was the 12th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s entrance into eternal glory, I thought I would combine his words on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom with Mary in Old Testament (a series I have been writing recently) for today’s “Mondays with Mary.” Before we focus on the late Holy Father’s words, let us turn our gaze to understanding the Old Testament Marian symbol – “Created Wisdom.”

In the Old Testament, we see some rather transcendent passages on the idea of Wisdom, which focuses on the divine Person, the Father’s Word, who exists and works before all of creation is formed, most notably, Sirach 24:3-21 and Proverbs 8:22-35. The Church in the liturgical texts has used these transcendent scriptures for two Marian feasts since the seventh and tenth centuries – The Assumption of Mary into Heaven and The Nativity of Mary. In the Lectionary, these passages are commonly used for the Masses for the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headed as “Mary, Seat of Wisdom.”

Since the seventh century, the Church has employed these texts to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This did not happen through simple accommodation, but through the simple and basic understanding of the texts, which “evidently is found in the letter of the text, but at the same time surpasses it, widens it, and enriches it.”

We see then that through the writings of the sacred author, “Wisdom, by way of reflection and participation is ascribed to Mary, the Mother of the Word of God, who from eternity was predestined, as Ineffabilis Deus, in one and the same decree with the Incarnation of divine Wisdom.” Understanding this, it is clear that Mary shares and plays a fundamental role in the mission of the Incarnation as well as the perquisites of the Word who dwelt among us, the hypostatic Wisdom incarnate. Wisdom, which was uncreated, was now incarnate in Mary, making her the epicenter of Life and Truth. She is truly “Created Wisdom.”

Madonna as Seat of Wisdom, 1199

Now that we have come to an understanding of the Marian symbol – “created wisdom”, let us turn our attention to five quotes by Pope St. John Paul II that focus on the Marian title, Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom –

1. “The prophecy and the promise of faith, whose fulfillment was awaited by the whole people, the Israel of divine election, and the whole of humanity: This was Mary’s mystery. Joseph did not know this mystery. She could not transmit it to him, because it was a mystery beyond the capacity of the human intellect and the possibilities of human language. It was not possible to transmit it by any human means. It was only possible to accept it from God – and believe. Just as Mary believed. – Termi, Italy, 1981

2. “Beloved young people! Continue to live in the truth and for the truth! May the Blessed Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom, Mother of the Word who enlightens every man, assist you, enlighten you, and comfort you.” – Rome, Italy, 1979

3. “To succeed in your intentions, entrust yourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary always, but especially in moments of difficulty and darkness. ‘From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God…Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God’s Word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God.’” – Washington, D.C., 1979

4. “The cross is the living book from which we learn definitively who we are and how we must act. This book is always open in front of us. Read, reflect, enjoy this new wisdom. Make it your own and you will walk also along the paths of knowledge, culture, and university life, spreading light in a service of love, worthy of children of God.

And look also the Blessed Virgin, standing by the cross of Jesus (Jn. 19:25) where she is given to us as our mother: she is our hope, the seat of true Wisdom.” – Rome, Italy, 1980

5. “Be faithful to the Mother of fair love. Have trust in her, as you shape your love and form your young families. May Christ always be there for you “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” – Krakow, Poland, 1979

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom…Pray for Us.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes by Pope St. John Paul II

Since this Saturday was the optional memorial for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I thought I would share with you briefly the prayer of Pope St. John Paul II to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this title. This prayer was originally published on August 15, 2004.

Pope St. John Paul in Lourdes, 2004

Pope St. John Paul in Lourdes, 2004

Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman,
Blessed by the Most High!
Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era,
We join in your song of praise,
to celebrate the Lord’s mercy,
to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom
and the full liberation of humanity.

Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord,
Glorious Mother of Christ!
Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word,
Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word,
and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit,
attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience
and to his manifestations in the events of history.

Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows,
Mother of the living!
Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve,
Be our guide along the paths of the world.
Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ,
to stand with you before the innumerable crosses
on which your Son is still crucified.

Hail Mary, woman of faith,
First of the disciples!
Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always
to account for the hope that is in us,
with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love.
Teach us to build up the world beginning from within:
in the depths of silence and prayer,
in the joy of fraternal love,
in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.

Holy Mary, Mother of believers,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
pray for us.

Amen.

For more catechesis on this important Marian feast, I would suggest reading the following blog posts I have written in the past – Our Lady of Lourdes“Mondays with Mary” – Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes and “Mondays with Mary” – Pope Benedict XVI on the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Our Lady of Lourdes…Pray for Us 

Saint Bernadette…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God by Pope St. John Paul II

Yesterday, we celebrated one of great Marian Solemnities in the Catholic Church – Mary, Mother of God. As another year comes upon us, we begin our year focusing on Our Lord’s Mother, particularly in her role as Theotokos or God-Bearer.

As some of you know, this happens to be my favorite title for the Blessed Virgin Mary. I like this title for Mary so much that my home Wi-Fi is named Theotokos and my fantasy football team, which by the way won the league championship, is titled – The Theotokos Tide.

In the past, I have written on this title for Mary many times, if you are interested in reading some of those posts, I would encourage you to check those out here.

As many of you also know, Pope St. John Paul II is a major influence in my writing and work, not only here, but also at the parish. Next week and week after, I will be teaching on his life to the parents of our family formation program. So for today’s, “Mondays with Mary”, I am going to provide you 5 quotes from homilies written by Pope St. John Paul II that focus on Our Lady in this Solemnity – Mary, the Mother of God. Feel free to share these on your social media sites or with family and friends.

1. “Today’s liturgy celebrates the solemnity of the Mother of God. Mary is the one who was chosen to be Mother of the Redeemer, sharing intimately in his mission. In the light of Christmas, the mystery of her divine motherhood is illumined. Mary, Mother of Jesus who was born in the Bethlehem cave, is also the Mother of every man and woman who comes into the world. How is it possible not to commend to her the year that is beginning, to implore a time of serenity and peace for all humanity? On the day when this new year begins under the blessed gaze of the Mother of God, let us invoke the gift of peace for each one and all.” – 1997

Orans - Theotokos

2. “‘When the time had fully come’ (Gal 4:4). These words of the Letter of St Paul to the Galatians correspond very well to the character of today’s celebration. We are at the beginning of the New Year. According to the civil calendar, today is the first day of 1998; according to that of the liturgy, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God…The Virgin most holy, whom we address on this first day of the year by the title ‘Mother of God’, turns her loving gaze to the whole world. Through her motherly intercession, the people of all the continents can feel more like brothers and prepare their hearts to welcome her Son, Jesus. Christ is the genuine peace that reconciles man with man and all humanity with God.” – 1998

3. In a certain sense, the whole liturgical year follows in the footsteps of this motherhood, beginning with the feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, exactly nine months before Christmas. On the day of the Annunciation, Mary heard the Angel’s words: ‘Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus…. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God’ (Lk 1: 31-33, 35). And she answered:  ‘Let it be to me according to your word’ (ibid., 1: 38). – 2000

4. “Today the Church is celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. After presenting her as the One who offers the Child to the shepherds who sought him anxiously, Luke the Evangelist gives us an image of Mary, at the same time simple and majestic. Mary is the woman of faith, who made room for God in her heart, in her plans, in her body, in her experience as a wife and mother. She is the believer who is capable of understanding the unusual event of the Son as the coming of that ‘fullness of time’ (Gal 4: 4), in which God, choosing the simple ways of human life, decided to involve himself personally in the work of salvation.” – 2001

5. “Today, the liturgy of the Octave of Christmas presents to us the icon of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. The Apostle Paul points her out as the “woman” through whom the Son of God entered the world. Mary of Nazareth is the Theotokos, the One who “gave birth to the King of Heaven and earth for ever” (Entrance Antiphon; cf. Sedulius). At the beginning of this new year, let us place ourselves with docility at the school of Mary. We want to learn from her, the Holy Mother, how to accept in faith and prayer the salvation that God never ceases to offer to all who trust in his merciful love.” – 2004

As we begin this new year of 2017, let us ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Mother of God, to intercede always for us by leading us closer to her Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let us also pray that the Pope St. John Paul II will continue to watch over and pray for the Catholic Church from his place in Heaven. Amen.

Pope St. John Paul II’s Rookie Card

Today is the memorial for Pope St. John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) as well as the 38th Anniversary of his Installation to the Papacy of the Catholic Church. Below you will find two pictures – the front and back of a prayer card from October 1978.

In some aspects, this prayer card for Pope St. John Paul II is like a “baseball rookie card.” It states the dates of his birth, ordination to the priesthood, elevation to the episcopate, cardinal creation, election to the papacy, and installation to the papacy.

If the prayer card below is like his baseball rookie card, then my blog post titled, Pope Saint John Paul: Mission Accomplished, is his induction to the Hall of Fame, well in this case, the Heavenly Kingdom.

In the 4½ years of writing on this blog, I have written about Pope St. John Paul over 50 times. He is one of the main reasons why I teach and write about the Catholic faith so much. His inspiration in my life, which began through Robert “BK” Kloska, has fueled many of my projects on here and in different parish and school positions that I have held over the years.

JP2 Rookie Card, Side 1JP2 Rookie Card, Side 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For your reading pleasure today, here are the blog posts that I have written on the Polish Pope and Saint since last year’s memorial day –

1. Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

2. 7 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi 

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary’s Connection to Pentecost

4. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary as the Virgin of Virgins

5. Remembering Pope St. John Paul II: Eleven Years Later

6. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Presentation of the Lord

7. 10 Quotes on the Holy Family from Pope St. John Paul II

This link will take you to the many other blog posts I have written on him.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray For Us!

JP2, We Love You! 

Be Not Afraid! 

Beatification Pic of JP II

Remembering My World Youth Day Experiences

As I have been seeing all the posts from my friends on social media as well as some of the videos posted by priests and figures such as Bishop Robert Barron, about World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, I can’t help to remember the fond memories that I have from the two World Youth Day events I was blessed to attend years ago.

When I was nineteen years old, I attended my first World Youth Day, which was held in Denver, Colorado in 1993. Our young adult group from St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church sponsored a pilgrimage for us to attend. Father Pete Rossa, Pastor of St. Bernadette Catholic Church here in the Diocese of Phoenix was on that trip before he discerned Holy Orders. Our young adult leader at the time, Bobby Kloska, got us so fired up about attending and seeing the great Pope John Paul II.

WYD 1993 T-shirt

The shirt Bobby created for our pilgrimage. On the back is a list of all the Popes – from St. Peter to John Paul II (that shirt sits in my closet).

The first time we saw Pope St. John Paul II was in Mile High Stadium while sitting high in the upper deck. The experience was so vivid – it has been stamped in my mind forever. I can still remember it all perfectly. I recall someone that day saying that John Paul II was being flown in by a helicopter. I remember hearing in the distance military helicopters, which quickly made their way to the stadium. After flying over the stadium once, they landed in some landing area where the Holy Father deplaned.

Ten to fifteen minutes later, Pope St. John Paul II came into the stadium riding in the “Pope Mobile.” Once he appeared, the entire stadium went crazy…I mean absolutely bananas!! We all started cheering and were screaming at the top of our lungs for Pope John Paul II. The chant of “JP 2, We Love You…JP 2, We Love You!” begin quietly but quickly grew into a great crescendo. The Pope Mobile made a lap around the stadium, parked, and then the opening ceremonies began.

JP II - Denver - Pope Mobile

Pope St. John Paul II in Pope Mobile driving around Mile High Stadium.

The World Youth Day experience is fantastic because you witness so many young people from around the world praising Jesus Christ and being attentive to his Vicar. World Youth Day really showed me for the first time in my life the universality of the Catholic Church. Twenty-three years later, I still cherish the experience deep in my heart.

Pope St. John Paul II said at the closing Mass of World Youth Day 1993,

“Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel (Cf. Rom 1,16). It is the time to preach it from the rooftops (Cf. Mat 10,27). Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living, in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern ‘metropolis’.”

The second World Youth Day I attended was in Rome, Italy during the Jubilee Year of 2000. I was twenty-six years old at the time and the Director of Youth Ministry at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Litchfield Park, Arizona. There were 22 of us (teens, young adults, and adult chaperones) on the pilgrimage which first visited Turin, Italy, where we were blessed to see the famous Shroud of Turin. 

Out of the two World Youth Day experiences I witnessed, it was by far the best experience. First, I had never been so close to Pope St. John Paul before, and second, my sister was with me on the trip.

Carla and Tommy - WYD 2000

My sister and I in Turin, Italy.

The first time we saw John Paul II up close was when the Pope Mobile drove right by our group on the Via dei Fori in the heart of Rome amidst the Roman ruins and the Colosseum. I could have leaned over the railing and the touched the Pope Mobile it was so close. I remember we were all in tears of joy as he drove by us. It’s been said that being so close to a living saint would bring tears to your eyes. Even though he drove by us quickly, the fact still remains, we were all brought to tears.

The second time we saw John Paul II up close was when we walked to Tor Vergata for the Evening Prayer Vigil and closing Mass on Sunday morning. As we were walking in, I remember my sister was right next to me, and the Pope Mobile was right in front of us. We were in a crowd of 2 million people trying to catch a glimpse of the future Polish saint. I can still remember the beauty of the Vigil and the Mass on the field at Tor Vergata. It was yet another great experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

JP II - Rome WYD

Pope St. John Paul II at Prayer Vigil.

Pope St. John Paul II said at the closing Mass of World Youth Day 2000,

“Dear friends, when you go back home, set the Eucharist at the centre of your personal life and community life: love the Eucharist, adore the Eucharist and celebrate it, especially on Sundays, the Lord’s Day…May every community always have a priest to celebrate the Eucharist! I ask the Lord therefore to raise up from among you many holy vocations to the priesthood.”

As I read the social media posts and witness the events happening in the home of the great Polish Saint, I remember the impact the World Youth Day events had on my own life and faith in Jesus Christ. Tonight I watched a short clip from Word on Fire where Bishop Barron explained how he and a few others had dinner with the friends of John Paul II when he was their parish priest. He said they were the genesis of World Youth Day since they were the first youths he evangelized.

Even though my time has passed to attend such events for the youth of the world, I encourage those who have never been and are between the ages of 16-35 to go to the next World Youth Day, which will be announced at the end of this years World Youth Day.

Please keep all the pilgrims attending World Youth Day in your prayers for the rest of the week. Please pray for their safety and the conversion of hearts.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us. 

Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Today in the both lungs of the Catholic Church, the East and the West, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, or as it is titled in the East – Nativity of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John. St. John the Baptist is the son of Saints Zachariah and Elizabeth and the last great Old Testament prophet. He is the harbinger of Jesus Christ. It would be hard to imagine that a Christian would not know the story behind Saint John the Baptist, but in case you don’t, you can read a simple and short explanation of that here.

In our age of the New Evangelization, Saint John the Baptist is an example of one who preached with passion, strength, humility and courage. He was not afraid, even in the face of grave danger, to speak the truth and prepare the way for Jesus Christ. As John the Baptist preached, so must we also speak in the ways associated with our God-given gifts, the same dynamic message in our current culture – a culture that stays anything and everything is okay as long as it makes you feel good, a motto frequently professed by King Herod.

And as if St. John the Baptist wasn’t enough of an example for us, many of us remember that papacy of Pope St. John Paul II, who in the face of grave danger from the Nazis, and even more so, the Socialists, stood toe-to-toe with them and defeated them by preaching the Truth of Jesus Christ. Now a saint counted among the greats of the Catholic Church, John Paul II stands for us as the pope of the New Evangelization and an example of what it means to preach the Gospel message in a world hostile to Jesus Christ.

So with this all being said, I give you 7 quotes from Pope St. John Paul II’s Latin Rite Mass Homily given at Kyiv in the Ukraine on June 24, 2001 about Saint John the Baptist and his relations to Jesus Christ –

“His name is John” (Lk 1:63)…which in Hebrew means “God is benevolent”God is benevolent to human beings: he wants them to live; he wants them to be saved. God is benevolent to his people: he wants to make of them a blessing for all the nations of the earth. God is benevolent to humanity: he guides its pilgrim way towards the land where peace and justice reign. All this is contained in that name: John!”

“Look today to John the Baptist, an enduring model of fidelity to God and his Law. John prepared the way for Christ by the testimony of his word and his life. Imitate him with docile and trusting generosity.”

St. John the Baptist icon

“Saint John the Baptist is above all a model of faith. Following the example of the great Prophet Elijah, in order to listen more attentively to the word of the one Lord of his life, he leaves everything and withdraws to the desert, from which he would issue the resounding call to prepare the way of the Lord (cf. Mt 3:3 and parallels).”

“He is a model of humility, because to those who saw in him not only a Prophet, but the Messiah himself, he replied: “Who do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie” (Acts 13:25).”

“He is a model of uprightness and courage in defending the truth, for which he was prepared to pay in his person, even to the point of imprisonment and death.”

“You, dear young people, be brave and free! Do not let yourselves be taken in by the deceptive mirages of an easy happiness. Follow the way of Christ: he is demanding, certainly, but he alone can help you to savour the full meaning of life and enjoy peace of heart.”

“You, dear parents, prepare the way of the Lord before your children. Bring them up with love, and set a good example by living the principles you teach. And you, teachers and leaders of society, deepen your commitment to promoting the complete development of the human person, fostering in the young a deep sense of justice and of solidarity with the less fortunate.”

To conclude, let us always remember the words of Pope St. John Paul II – “Be Not Afraid.” Even in the face of our current culture, who sees Christianity, specifically Catholicism as a threat, we have these words, the actions and words of St. John the Baptist, the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the chivalrous witness of the great saints and martyrs of the Church who support us and intercede for us at all times.

Saint John the Baptist…Pray for Us.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us.