“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, the Morning Star (through words of Blessed John Henry Newman)

There are times when I know exactly what I am going to write for a “Mondays with Mary” and then there are times when I struggle to find a topic. Today was one of those days, however, after a miscue on what reading I was suppose to read last night at our monthly Latin Novus Ordo Mass, it came to me, well it came to me through a friend. I was supposed to read the first reading, but I read the second reading. She said to me, Tom, you had to read that reading because it mentioned “morning star” and you had to read about Mary.

So for today’s blog post on the Blessed Mother, I am going to focus on the Marian title, Morning Star, but through the words of Blessed John Henry Newman. However, before I give you his words, let me briefly explain this title to you and what it means.

In the Litany of Loreto, there isn’t a title that is more precise than “Morning Star.” All stars image the Blessed Virgin Mary for she is the reflection of the brightest star, Jesus Christ. One of the most popular titles for Mary is “Star of the Sea”, which derives from ancient Marian hymns. In September, I will focus on this Marian title more.

The title “Morning Star” is often associated with the Blessed Mother because the Church interprets this verse from Song of Songs – “Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun?” (6:10) as a description of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the “Morning Star”, Mary precedes the coming of the star that lights the day, the star that points to the largest star. As always, Mary is leading us closer to Jesus Christ.

Now that we have a brief understanding of this title, let us turn to the words of Blessed John Henry Newman, a man who can say hello and good-bye more eloquently than me. As often happens with the saints, after I read this explanation of the Morning Star from Newman, my one word was…Wow!

“WHAT is the nearest approach in the way of symbols, in this world of sight and sense, to represent to us the glories of that higher world which is beyond our bodily perceptions? What are the truest tokens and promises here, poor though they may be, of what one day we hope to see hereafter, as being beautiful and rare? Whatever they may be, surely the Blessed Mother of God may claim them as her own. And so it is; two of them are ascribed to her as her titles, in her Litany—the stars above, and flowers below. She is at once the Rosa Mystica and the Stella Matutina.

And of these two, both of them well suited to her, the Morning Star becomes her best, and that for three reasons.

First, the rose belongs to this earth, but the star is placed in high heaven. Mary now has no part in this nether world. No change, no violence from fire, {77} water, earth, or air, affects the stars above; and they show themselves, ever bright and marvellous, in all regions of this globe, and to all the tribes of men.

And next, the rose has but a short life; its decay is as sure as it was graceful and fragrant in its noon. But Mary, like the stars, abides for ever, as lustrous now as she was on the day of her Assumption; as pure and perfect, when her Son comes to judgment, as she is now.

Lastly, it is Mary’s prerogative to be the Morning Star, which heralds in the sun. She does not shine for herself, or from herself, but she is the reflection of her and our Redeemer, and she glorifies Him. When she appears in the darkness, we know that He is close at hand. He is Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Behold He comes quickly, and His reward is with Him, to render to everyone according to his works. ‘Surely I come quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.'”

Blessed Virgin Mary, Morning Star…Pray for Us 

775th Blog Post 

Heads Up: On Vacation

Keep Calm - Vacation

I am taking a break/vacation/unplugging from blogging over the next two weeks. It’s been a glorious year of blogging since my vacation last year. So many blessings to speak about – writing projects, teaching at the parish, and still having a great job, although this vacation is definitely needed. It’s also been a difficult year, but it seems that suffering is very much of my life.

While I am gone this week, please share my blog with your family and friends!! Including this post, there are 772 blog posts/articles. Check out my archives from the past year.

If you have suggestions or topics you would like me to write on in the future, please leave those suggestions in the comment box below or email me.

See you all soon!

In Christ through Mary,

– Tom

“Mondays with Mary” – The Top 5 Most Popular “Mondays with Mary” of 2016

Since we are at the beginning of a new year, I wanted to share with you the Top 5 Most Popular “Mondays with Mary” of 2016. Many of you may have read these already, but I know there are new followers to my blog who may not have read these blog posts when they were first published. I do this from time-to-time as a way to share what readers found to be interesting in this series. They are numbered 1 to 5, 1 being the most views.

1. “Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of La Salette 

2. “Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of America, Part I 

3. “Mondays with Mary” – Bishop Fulton Sheen and ‘The Assumption and the Modern World’ 

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

5. “Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Walsingham 

Please continue to pray for the success of this weekly series on the Blessed Virgin Mary. I am approaching the 5th Anniversary of “Mondays with Mary” this upcoming May. I have also turned some of these into a book and waiting to hear back from some Catholic publishers. Pray that they will publish my manuscript so that others, who may not know about this series or my blog, may come to grow in their relationship with Jesus through Our Lady.

Our Lady of Guadalupe…Pray for Us.

Our Lady of Fatima…Pray for Us.

Our Lady of America…Pray for Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary and the Saints

Since tomorrow is the Solemnity of All Saints, I thought I would focus today’s “Mondays with Mary” on just that – Mary and the Saints. Realizing that I have written quite a bit on what the Saints have said about Mary, I thought I would gather those blog posts together in one blog post for you to read. However, before I get to those posts, let’s take a look at what Hans Urs Von Balthasar has to say about Mary’s relation to the communion of saints.

In the book, Mary – The Church at the Source, a book he co-authored with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Von Balthasar writes the following on why Mary stands out in the Communion of Saints

…”Mary can never be isolated from the communion of saints. She can be called ‘Mother of the Church’ because she is the Mother of Christ and thus all of his mystical members; in spite of that, she remains our sister and is glad to be so…Mary, as the purest of all creatures, irradiates what is her own least of all. Everyone within the communion of saints has something Marian about him…perhaps it is precisely our time that especially needs to see Mary. To see her as she shows herself, not as we would like to imagine her…she shows herself and defines herself as the archetypal Church, whose form we have to take as our pattern.”

Mary, Baby jesus, and all the saints

Two points here to mention quickly, I completely agree with Von Balthasar when he says that Mary can never be isolated from the communion of saints. She is the glue that holds the communion of saints together since she is our mother. Our mother, because she is given to us by Jesus on the Cross through St. John, and yet even still, our sister in Christ too.

And second, there is no doubt in my mind that Mary is needed in all times of history, Lepanto in 1571 and Vienna in 16883, however, our time needs her more than ever. To bring us back to Jesus, we will need his Mother to lead us back to him. We see this concretely in her apparitions from the nineteenth century on, which all have similar themes to them – St. Catherine Laboure, St. Bernadette at Lourdes, Melanie at La Salette, to the children at Fatima.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, let us pray for the intercession of all saints, those canonized by the Church, and those family members of ours that have gone on before us. Let us ask the apex of the Communion of Saints to always lead us closer to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Below are the blog posts I mentioned above:

“Mondays with Mary – The Love the Saints Have for Mary

“Mondays with Mary” – The Saints and Popes on the Holy Rosary

“Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from the Saints on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, Queen of All Saints 

Queen of All Saints…Pray for Us 

Heads Up – June 2016

Now that we have entered the summer months and things have slowed down a bit for me at the parish, I wanted to update everyone on what you can expect from me over the next few months.

First, I am going to continue to write throughout the summer, as I have done in the past, but the writing may not be as frequent as in past summers. I will continue to focus on my “Mondays with Mary” and Quick Lessons from the Catechism series, but there might be some days (Mondays in particular) that you won’t find a new blog post. I am going to take some much needed vacation time to spend with family and friends.

Second, the reason why my writing is not going to be as frequent is because it is my hope to finish two manuscripts that I have begun. One is based on my “Mondays with Mary” series and other is focused on the Doctors of the Catholic Church, also part of my blog writing. I really need to get these finished, edited, into the hands of the diocese for ecclesiastical approval, and then to publishers. Pray that Catholic publishers are interested in my manuscripts so that you can purchase them in the future.

Third, although I am compensated well through my position at the parish, there is always a need for more financial support, especially for those of us who have chosen to work for the Church. If you enjoy what you read on my blog, would like to thank me for my blog posts, and want to see more posts faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, please prayerfully consider making a donation. You can find the PayPal link on the main page of this blog or just click on the aforementioned link. Thank you in advance.

Lastly, please pray for me. Working for the Catholic Church is hard work, and more often than not, the devil is prowling around seeking to destroy and confuse. There are two scripture passages that I often think about – Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 – they often bring me consolation knowing that even St. Paul endured sufferings.

Thank you for the support and enjoy your summer!

Praise Be Jesus Christ…Now and Forever!

“Mondays with Mary” – The Importance of Marian Devotion (and the 4th Anniversary)

As long as I can remember, I have had always had a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but never fully understood Mary’s role in Salvation History till I studied Mariology in graduate school at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Although devotion is important – I am going to focus the foreseeable “Mondays with Mary” on this topic, my devotion to her increased, which in turn increased my relationship with Jesus Christ, when I learned the scriptural and dogmatic teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Praying the Holy Rosary is important and it’s probably the primary devotion to Our Lady in the West, but if you have the capability to study about her, to learn who she was and is for us today, I would suggest doing this as well. I recommend you read two of my very early posts from this series to begin – The Importance of Studying Marian Theology and The Importance of Studying Marian Doctrines.

When it comes to devotion to Mary, there are a few camps that exist today. Some will say that there is never enough of Mary. She is the Mother of God and she should be given great devotion and honor for her “Yes” at the Annunciation. Then there is the other side that thinks Marian devotion separates the hierarchy of Christian truths, which is rooted in Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity. Mary belongs on the side because she divides us from the ecclesial communities that stem from the Reformation. These communities have no need for her and simply want to focus on Christ. On the other hand, when it comes to the Eastern Church (the Orthodox), there is no tension at all, except if we decided to focus on her less.

It can be said that both of these camps can be one-sided. The first camp – “never enough of Mary” is not just about the amount of things dedicated to her, such as dogmas, feasts, and devotions. It can’t be measured in quantitative ways. This camp really just wants to show how important Mary is in Salvation History. It is true however that her role as the Mother of God is deeply centered on the teachings of Christ and the Holy Trinity.

Moreover, in response to the critique given by the second camp, there is no other woman in the whole of Scripture that is spoken about with such fine detail. Although the stories of Judith and Esther are explained in some detail, the difference between Mary and them is that their stories are much more episodic. Mary is closely united with the Incarnation, the childhood of Jesus, the public ministry of Christ (most especially the Wedding at Cana), his Passion on the cross, and his resurrected life as the Church begins to grow. Even though the clips of Mary in the Gospels are distributed throughout, there still remains a uniting factor among each one – they each bring us closer to Christ and deepen our relationship with both of them.

Mary, Queen of Angels

Whoever is going to listen or read the Scriptures has to take note that the Gospel scenes Mary are apart of are just as important as the rest of the Scriptures. This person must gather the Marian mosaic together and examine it as a complete whole – for it brings us in union with her and which gives us the proper illumination for the disposition we must have with Jesus Christ. If one fails to do so, by simply refusing her role in the life of Christ, it must be questioned on how well they actually hear the Word of God. Marian devotion is not something done on its own, but always with Christ and his Church in mind and with Christ and his Church as the center. All Marian piety, which is properly ordered as Catholic, is therefore rooted in Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity, and the Universal Church.

In places that have the ability to catechize their faithful properly and with catechesis in line with the Church must show that although popular Marian devotion is good, it can never turn Mary into simply a divine person who overlook’s the work of Jesus Christ. Although we pray to Mary, in truth, we are asking for her intercession. In the end, all Marian prayers although directed towards her, in the larger context, are directed towards God, Christ, and to the Church.

A danger lies in places where the catechesis is not done properly. The aforementioned scenario from above can be easily mistaken where Mary becomes the end all. Marian prayers directed towards her are just that – they are directed towards her as if she is a divine creature and does not share in the work of Christ. For these individuals, Mary is salvation as a whole. When we are faced with such thoughts, we must remedy it with prudence and gentleness for she is a piece of the big picture and not the picture itself.

What must be remembered in the end is that the core of Marian devotion can be practiced by both the catechized and non-catechized as long as the training is correct and the articles of faith given to us in the Creeds are the groundwork for such formation.

As we celebrate the fourth anniversary of my “Mondays with Mary” series, I am going to continue to focus, at least for the foreseeable future, on the importance of Marian devotion/piety, through the writings of Hans Urs Von Balthasar and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI).

Next week, we will examine the Veneration of Mary.

This is the 200th blog post and the fourth anniversary of my “Mondays with Mary” series and the 650th blog post overall.

Source:

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal, and Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Mary, the Church at the Source. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 2005. Print.

All Glory, Praise, and Thanksgiving to Jesus Christ Now and Forever. Amen.

Mary, Holy Theotokos…Pray for Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Top Five “Mondays with Mary” Over the Past 365 Days

Being that next Monday is the fourth anniversary of “Mondays with Mary” and the 200th blog post of the series; I thought I would do something very simple and very short for #199. I can’t even fathom that I have written as much as I have in general about Catholicism, but being so close to #200 with this series on the Blessed Mother gets me very excited. With the collection and purchasing of some new Marian books, this series will continue on for the foreseeable future.

Mary and Eucharist

Below are the Top “Mondays with Mary” Over the Past 365 days –

The Flowers of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the most read “Mondays with Mary” post of all time)

10 Quotes from Padre Pio on the Blessed Virgin Mary

10 Memorable Quotes about the Blessed Virgin Mary from St. John Vianney

7 Benefits of Praying the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant

I hope you all have enjoyed these weekly posts and continue to share them with your family and friends.

I want to give a “shout out” to the Catholic Facebook Ministry group. Many of these Catholics have shared numerous posts from this series and other writings I have done in the past. It was this group that put me in contact with Annie and John-Paul Deddens and the PrayMoreRetreat.com. Thank you for your witness to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.

Our Lady, Theotokos, Ever-Virgin…Pray for Us.