Lessons from the Blessed Mother

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1 Lessons from the Blessed Mother by Terry A. Modica 2007 Reprinted by license only. Order from Catholic Digital Resources: To subscribe to the Good News Reflections, ed free daily, go to

2 Introduction How I met the Blessed Mother Luke 1:39-56 Imagine what it might have been like for Elizabeth when Mary visited her, as told in Luke 1: Have you been personally visited by Our Blessed Mother? I'm not talking about having visions or getting messages from her. Do you know what it's like to have a personal relationship with her, in which you experience her motherly concern for you? Because God loves you and wants the best for you, through his power this IS possible! I became Catholic in 1977, and because of my Protestant background, I couldn't feel any personal connection to Mary. I listened to what others with more experience said about her, but it just didn't seem real. I learned to pray the Rosary, but it seemed more boring and less meaningful than my other methods of praying. Eventually, I quit trying. I told Jesus that if he wants me to have a relationship with his mom, he'll have to introduce her to me. A few more years went by. While working as a staff reporter for my diocese's newspaper in 1989, I covered the visit of a popular Marian speaker, Wayne Weibel. He was a Lutheran who converted after making a pilgrimage to the site of Marian apparitions in Medjugorje. I had already read his book, Medjugorje the Message, and although it had wowed me, Mary still seemed foreign to me and distant. The local man who organized Mr. Weibel's speaking tour told me that Our Lady had personally selected me to cover this story. Huh? She picked me? This was not just a decision made by my editor? The Virgin Mary knew I existed and chose me? What a thought! As I traveled with Mr. Weibel from speaking engagement to speaking engagement, I interviewed him not only for the paper, but for me. After a presentation in a large church, I watched people come into the back to thank him for his words. Some of them gave him gifts, such as a crucifix and a picture of Mary. Each time, he turned and gave them to me and said, "Your mother wants you to have this." Really? Mary was giving me gifts through these people? Still, I did not feel any closer to her. That night, before I went to sleep, I again told Jesus that if he wants me to have a relationship with his mother, he'll have to make it happen. I was trying my best and failing. The next morning don't ask me how it happened, for I surely don't know I awakened with a genuine understanding of Mary as a mother to me who loves me, knows me, cares about me, prays for me, prays with me, and works to accomplish good things for me. The Rosary immediately came alive as a connection between her heart and mine. Mary cares about you, too, and every person you know. From heaven, she mourns for those who reject her Son, and she laughs for joy with those who delight in the Lord. She is real. Her love for you is real. She very much wants to have an "Elizabeth experience" with each of us and to praise the Lord with us. She wants us to sing our own Magnificat with her. This is the basis of our relationship with her: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord..." Imagine the two of you making this a duet for the Father! "God who is mighty has done great things for us, and holy is his name!" 2007 by Terry A. Modica Catholic Digital Resources: catholicdr.com Good News: gnm.org Pg #1

3 Common Questions about Mary Q: Did Mary give birth to other children? A: James is often named as a brother of Jesus. One of the original Twelve Apostles, he was called "James the brother of the Lord". However, at the time, the word "brother" also meant a cousin or other relative. Since the earliest days of the Church, it was known that Mary remained ever-virgin. If you look for every reference of James in the Gospels, you'll see that Mary the mother of Jesus is not his mother. Matt. 27:55-56 shows us three women watching Jesus die on the cross from a distance: "Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee." We know that Mary the mother of Jesus was at the foot of the cross, not with these other ladies standing at a distance. Note that the theology of the Immaculate Conception is not about Jesus being conceived immaculately. We refer to his conception as a "virgin birth". Mary remained a virgin because her Spouse was the Holy Spirit. She married Joseph because it was God's plan that Jesus be raised in a holy family, but Mary remained faithful to her unity with her Spouse. We also know that Jesus was Mary's first child (not James), because the scriptures tell us that when the angel announced her role in the coming of the Messiah, Mary told the angel she didn't understand how she could become a mother, since she had never had relations with any man. Q: Is there reference anywhere in the Bible as to the fact that Mary was kept from sin? A: Not everything is spelled out in scripture. For example, nowhere in the Bible does it say that abortion is murder because life begins at conception. Yet, we know from the truths that are written in scripture that abortion is murder because it's the destruction of human life. So, too, it is with understanding Mary and her life. We know what scripture says about grace, and that Mary was full of grace because of what it means to be "highly favored" by God. We interpret the "woman" in the book of Revelation as Mary, mother of the Church (since she is the mother of Jesus and we the Church are his body, she is therefore the mother of the Church). Revelation says that the evil one had no power over this woman; the only reason why that could be so is that Mary did not sin. Mary is the "new Eve". She undid what Eve did by saying no to temptation. Mary lived the way Eve was supposed to live. Christ is the new Adam, and Mary is the new Eve; therefore, the power of original sin has been undone and we can all live in Paradise (which for now is only in Heaven until after the Second Coming of Christ when Satan and his army are finally and completely expelled from Earth). The Bible is not our only source of revelation. There also exists true teachings that did not make it into the Bible when it was put together as a collection of inspired writings. They have always been part of our faith, passed down through the centuries in what we call "Sacred Tradition". In Catholicism, "Sacred Tradition" is more than just a traditional viewpoint or way of doing something. "Sacred Tradition" means teachings that did not make it into the Bible but are just as true as the scriptures. Much of what we know about Mary comes to us from this Sacred Tradition by Terry A. Modica Catholic Digital Resources: catholicdr.com Good News: gnm.org Pg #2

4 Common Questions about Mary Q: Did Mary ever sin? A: The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: Paragraph : After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and his restoration from his fall [Gen. 3:9,15]. This passage in Genesis is called the protoevangelium ("first gospel"): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of hers. The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the 'New Adam' who, because he 'became obedient unto death, even death on a cross', makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam [cf. 1 Cor. 15:21-22,45; Phil. 2:8; Rom. 5:19-20]. Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the 'protoevangelium' as Mary, the mother of Christ, the 'new Eve'. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ's victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life. Para : The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia), and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature". By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long...." At the announcement that she would give birth to "the Son of the Most High" without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that "with God nothing will be impossible": "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be (done) to me according to your word" [Luke 1:28-38; cf. Rom. 1:5]. Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace: As St. Irenaeus says, "Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race." Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert... : "The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith." Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the Mother of the living" and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life through Mary." Para. 2853: Victory over the 'prince of this world' [John 14:30] was won once for all at the hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is 'cast out' [John 12:31; Rev. 12:10]. 'He pursued the woman' [Rev. 12:13-16] but had no hold on her: the new Eve, 'full of grace' of the Holy Spirit, is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, ever virgin) by Terry A. Modica Catholic Digital Resources: catholicdr.com Good News: gnm.org Pg #3

5 Living by the Grace of God Read: Gen 3:9-15 & 20 Luke 1:26-38 On December 8, we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We celebrate the awesome miracle that God the Father granted to one of his daughters so that she could become the mother of God the Son. We celebrate the all-knowing nature of God, who planned ahead for Mary's participation in salvation history, knowing before her conception that she would choose to say yes. We celebrate the Holy Spirit, Giver of Life, who prepared a holy womb for the conception of Jesus' human nature by first creating Mary without the affects of Original Sin. As a new Eve, her conception was "immaculate" (untainted by Original Sin), because Jesus, who is fully divine and perfectly holy, could not live in the womb of a sinner. Only later, when he had complete control over his decision as an adult, could he join himself to the sins of the human race. We celebrate Mary's motherhood. In Gen 3:9-15 and 20, Eve becomes the mother of all the living, but she sins and she passes this sinfulness onto all generations. In Luke 1:26-38, Mary says yes to becoming the mother of the Savior who would redeem us from sin, and so she becomes the mother of all the living who are no longer dying from the effects of sin. We also celebrate the Church's official pronouncement of Mary's immaculate conception, which Pope Pius IX made official in Because this occurred in recent history, it seems like an "invention" of Catholicism, but Christians have understood this dogma and taught it since the early days. Pius IX only drew special attention to it because the world's influences were eroding belief in it, and something had to be done to stop the spread of heresies. The idea that Mary could be conceived without bondage to Original Sin, and the related idea that Mary could spend her entire life free of sin, is not a glorification of her. It's a glorification of God, who filled her with grace in order to protect her in a special way to resist temptation throughout her life. "Let it be done to me according to your word" was not a sudden or temporary leap of faith for her; it was her life-long attitude. The power that enabled her to fulfill this desire came by grace from the Holy Spirit. We all have been given grace from the Holy Spirit to resist sin. When we sin and sorrowfully repent, God's mercy restores us to his grace. When we rely on this grace, we avoid sin. Grace is a gift, pure gift. Grace is God's power received as a gift when we need it, regardless of what we do or don't do. Availing ourselves of God's grace, however, does depend on us. We cannot sin and remain in the state of grace. But we cannot avoid sin unless we have God's grace! Mary is the example that proves that this is so by Terry A. Modica Catholic Digital Resources: catholicdr.com Good News: gnm.org Pg #4

6 The Good News Rosary BEGIN YOUR PRAYER: I offer up this Rosary for ; I do this with full confidence in God's wisdom and unconditional love, because: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. For the gift of Faith from the Holy Spirit: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. For the gift of Hope from Jesus Christ: Hail Mary, full of grace... For the gift of Love from God the Father: Hail Mary, full of grace... Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen! Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Your Mercy. AFTER STATING EACH MYSTERY'S INTENTION: 1. One "Our Father " 2. Ten "Hail Mary " 3. One "Glory be " 4. One "Oh my Jesus " AFTER THE 5 MYSTERIES: Hail, holy Queen! Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then O most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ! 2007 by Terry A. Modica Catholic Digital Resources: catholicdr.com Good News: gnm.org Pg #20

7 The Joyful Mysteries 1. THE ANNUNCIATION Holy Spirit, I ask for the grace to hear You calling me. Help me to say "yes" to whatever it is You have gifted me for, because You have chosen me to be Your partner in ministry. Especially help me to say "yes" to following Your will in the situation I'm currently in, of. 2. THE VISITATION Holy Spirit, I ask for the grace to be a friend and encourager to all those around me. Help me to share in their joys, as Mary did with Elizabeth, and help me to give them Your Love, as Mary still does today, especially with. 3. THE BIRTH OF JESUS Holy Spirit, I ask for the grace to receive a new birth of Jesus in all the areas of my life that have not totally been given over to Him. Help me to identify those areas and turn them over to You. Right now, I especially ask Jesus to become present in my. The Luminous Mysteries 1. THE BAPTISM OF JESUS "Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him... After Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water, and the heavens opened up for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending upon him like a dove. A voice came from the heavens, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.' " (Matt. 3:13,17) The Lord Jesus came to each of us in our baptisms. When you were baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon you, and the Father said, "This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased!" Thus, you became the light of Christ to shine in the world. You have been invested with the mission of this light! 2. JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF IN THE MIRACLE AT CANA 4. THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS Holy Spirit, I ask for the grace to present Jesus to the people around me, not so much by talking about Him as by the way I live my life. Help me to purify my life so that I can be a better reflection of Jesus' goodness and caring love. Help me to more compassionately let Jesus shine through me, especially when I am around. 5. FINDING JESUS IN THE TEMPLE Holy Spirit, I ask for the grace to seek out and find Jesus whenever my troubles get so distracting that I no longer see Him. Help me to know that He is always present with me, helping me, guiding me, and compassionately loving me, especially in the difficulties of by Terry A. Modica Catholic Digital Resources: catholicdr.com Good News: gnm.org Pg #21

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