“M” Is For The Many Things She Gave Me

The teachings we refer to as “The Mysteries of the Church” are, at their core, revelations.  God wants us to know Him as He is.  Our joy is to know Him, and self-expression is His gift to us.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s not possible to fully grasp the gospel simply by taking time out to read the Bible by yourself.  We can only come to know Jesus in the context of being a member of Christ’s Church. 

 

*   *   *

The Octave Day of Christmas 


Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
the Mother of God

Recessional Hymn

Hail, holy Queen enthroned above,
Hail, Queen of mercy and of love,
Our life, our sweetness, here below,
Our hope in sorrow and in woe, O Maria!

To thee we cry, poor sons of Eve,
To thee we sigh, we mourn, we grieve,
Turn then most gracious Advocate,
Toward us thine eyes compassionate, O Maria!

Triumph, all ye cherubim, Sing with us, ye seraphim,
Heaven and earth resound the hymn:
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

The cause of joy to men below,
The spring through which all graces flow,
Angels, all your praises bring,
Earth and heaven, with us sing,
All creation echoing:

Salve, salve, salve Regina!

.

THE STONE THAT THE BUILDERS REJECTED

Angels, all your praises bring,
Earth and heaven, with us sing,
All creation echoing….

 

 

Probably, you’re familiar with the Mysteries.  God is one, but God’s nature is triune – three persons, one God.  Jesus is truly and completely a man, and he is truly and absolutely God.  Sin separated us from God, but the sacrifice of Jesus reconciled us.  Sinners though we are, God sees us as Jesus is: His precious children.  God’s grace is sufficient for our salvation, but it is necessary for us to participate in our own redemption.  Mysteries all.

Faith assures us that these Mysteries are true, but we can only put our faith is them because God revealed them to us.  A Mystery is, of course, consistent with the revelations of the Bible but none of us could ever have figured them out on our own, aided by ‘scripture alone’.  God’s revelation wasn’t to this particular great man, or that particular holy woman.  God revealed these truths about Himself to the Church – Christ’s Church in its entirety – and the process of revelation was neither easy nor quick.

Even as Church, we didn’t start off with an understanding of these revelations.  The Church, collectively, came to its understanding in that same, completely human manner in which children come to understand.  We were able to advance in wisdom by submitting ourselves to the discipline of obedience to God and by growing in God’s favor (cf Lk 2, 51-52).  It didn’t happen all at once; and we only learned through the process of open, searching and often contentious discussion.

Today we celebrate the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.  Now, that’s plenty mysterious!  How is it possible that a woman, a mere human being, and a virgin besides, can be mother to the Infinite and Eternal ‘I Am’?  The Mystery of the Blessed Mother, or any Mystery, challenges us to think in different ways than the ones to which we’ve grown accustomed.

I spend a great deal of space, on this ‘blog, discussing the importance of repentance.  Let’s take a moment now to consider repentance as a matter of reordering our priorities.  Or, put more simply, to change our mind.  To the degree that I am unrepentant, my chief priority is to fulfill my own desires and to relieve my own suffering.  That’s my priority, but it’s not God’s priority.  Simply because I’m human, my mind is inclined to develop schemes for getting the things, and for doing the things that I believe will make me happy.  Even when I pray, my temptation is to pray for the things I think will benefit me, or the people I care about.  My own prayers betray the fact that I haven’t reconciled myself to the Holy One, and that I am still very much at war with Him.

What’s going on here?  I suggest you blame your own brain!

There is discussion, among scientists, as to whether or not we humans have a natural inclination to believe in a god.  Evolutionary scientists want to know whether the belief in a god enhances, or detracts from an individual’s capacity to survive long enough to reproduce.  From the perspective of genetics, the question is not, “Does God exist?” but rather, “Does the belief in a god aid us or hinder us?”  It turns out that the thing that promotes survival may or may not be the thing that is actually true.

I’m aware of a couple of examples where our inclination to believe something false is actually hard-wired into our DNA, a legacy of our ancestors’ biological success.  You probably remember from school that Galileo astonished the world by climbing the Tower of Pisa and demonstrating that light objects fall as quickly as heavy objects.  When I first heard that story, I was puzzled by the fact that – in ten thousand years of civilization – no one else had performed Galileo’s experiment.  There’s nothing to it, really.  How hard could it be to drop a stone off of the top of a precipice or the roof of a structure?

Galileo’s accomplishment wasn’t that he dropped a rock.  Galileo’s accomplishment is that he mustered enough determination in his own mind to defeat the inclination of human genetics.  Viewed as a physical feat, it wasn’t remarkable in the least.  Viewed as a mental feat, however, it is nothing short of miraculous.

Evolution inclines our brains to embrace Aristotelian physics and to reject Newtonian mechanics, to believe in a geocentric universe and to be hostile to the ideas of Copernicus.  Evolution even inclines us to resist the Theory of Evolution.  Our ancestors wouldn’t have done as well as they did if they weren’t unshakably convinced the sheep beget only sheep.

So, where does Captain Catholic stand on the question of an inclination toward deism?  My opinion is that we’re equipped with brains that are innately programmed to believe in a god, but our nature prompts us to believe in a kind of god that bears no resemblance to the God who actually lives.

We expect the sun to rise in the east and set in the west.  We’re genetically compelled toward that particular belief.  The idea that the earth circles a stationary sun in incredible to us.  No wonder we honor those visionaries who first gave serious consideration to that most loony of ideas.  They truly were geniuses!

I support the idea that we’re born with brains that are keen to believe in a god who is master of power and control and domination.  Keen to believe that we can improve our chances at getting what we want by groveling before a deity who, in actual fact, is disinterested with respect to our well being.  That god , the ‘tough guy’ god, is the god we expect;  just as we expect heavy stones to reach the ground faster than light ones.

A God of justice, and mercy, and self-sacrifice, and vulnerability, a God who longs to share a love with us, a God willing to become weak, even helpless, a God with his eye on the sparrow and aflame with a desire to reconcile all of us to Him and to each other is a God we would never, never have been able to imagine.

Where in the world would any of us get the notion that God is a tiny infant, suckling His mother’s breast?  Who but a madman would think that God had a mother of all things?  A mother who is meek, and gentle, and patient and ready to accept any of us as her own daughter or son?  Nobody is going to come up with that!

You and I know that ‘all creation echoes’ with praise for Mary meek and mild, queen of heaven and earth, and mother to God Himself.  Such blessed knowledge can only be rooted in faith.  It is only through faith that we can emancipate ourselves from the imaginary god that our brains manufacture, the god of murderous intent and embrace a God who sits on His mother’s knee and gazes into her eyes.

How that for a surprise!

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About captaincatholic

Fifty Eight Year old 'Cradle Catholic'. Married for twenty two years to the magnificent Pam. Father to the unsurpassable Angelique. Parishioner at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington MA.

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