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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Mary & the New Evangelization

mary.mother.of.jesus.01Jesus came to us through Mary. Similarly, he desires for us to come to him through Mary. She is indeed a special Channel of Grace for encountering our Lord. I think here of the thousands or millions of rosaries said and the accompanying meditations upon the saving acts of Christ. There are the countless churches and shrines dedicated to her for the honor of God. Fascinating both believers and non-believers are the miraculous stories, healings and apparitions.

Who does not know about Lourdes, Fátima, Guadalupe and many other sites of pilgrimage? But Mary is always about making disciples for her Son. All prayer has God as its proper object. Masses are offered in her churches, re-presenting the sacrifice of her Son on Calvary. Mary draws us to the altar of her Son. Mary urges us to receive the absolution of Christ in the ministry of priests, all so that we might know something of the grace which defines her.

During my reflections I have thought that we might compare Jesus and Mary to the sun and moon. Jesus is the Light of the World which dispels the darkness of sin and death. The sun shines with its own light and there is nothing to compare to it in the sky. However, the moon rules the night despite having no light of its own. The lunar illumination is entirely reflective of the sun’s rays. Like the moon, everything Mary has and offers comes first from her Son. She models to us how we can also allow the light of God to shine upon others in our lives.

The eternal plan of God comes to fulfillment in Mary. “…when the completion of time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the law, to redeem the subjects of the law, so that we could receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). Faith and baptism make us adoptive sons and daughters to the Father, brothers and sisters to our elder brother Jesus,and children of the Queen Mother, Mary. We are made members of a royal household, the family of God.

Jesus has now taken his place on his throne at the right hand of the Father. However, as the incarnate Divine Wisdom, his earthly chair was literally the Virgin Mary. She held the Christ in her arms and rested him in her lap; yes, she was truly the Seat of Wisdom. Usually mothers would teach their children about God and lead them in prayer while so holding them; but Mary held the God-Man, himself, the one who is the proper object of prayer. He was like us in all things, i.e. the things that mattered which needed to be redeemed. He had genuine experiential knowledge. But he always knew who he was and why he had entered the world. Jesus was also the eternal Word. Words are communicated by speech and writing. The utterance of God’s voice had brought forth creation and the fashioning of men into the image of God. The writing of God’s living Word upon the flesh of Mary would make possible our re-creation and the restoration of men by grace to the likeness of God. I use here the terms “image” and “likeness,” not interchangeably, but rather, to give heightened emphasis to the latter. Image signifies our natural kinship to the divine Spirit with a soul of both intellect and will. Likeness refers to the supernatural change manifested by grace where one can be holy and truly hope for salvation.

At the 2011 Convocation for Priests of the Archdiocese of Washington, the speaker, Fr. Stephen Rossetti made mention that an important indicator for happy priests was a devotion to the Blessed Mother. He offered the immediate connection with this and the New Evangelization.

Mary is both missionary (to Elizabeth) and contemplative (pondering the mystery of Christ in her home). Mary is a special model of faith for the ages, but particularly for our time of confusion, disbelief and conflict. Mary is of crucial importance, both for the clergy and the laity. She brings her children to Jesus and to a greater love and intimacy with the Catholic Church. Indeed, I would contend that participation in the Eucharist and Marian devotion both fuels the spiritual life and keeps people Catholic.