Tag Archive | The Virgin Mary

The Paraclete

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor 13:13).

With these words, John Paul II explained the origin and inspiration of the first and second encyclicals of his pontificate: Redemptor hominis and Dives in misericordia, “celebrating as they do the event of our salvation accomplished in the Son, sent by the Father into the world, that the world might be saved through him (Jn 3:17) . . . [and] every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). In his encyclical on the Holy Spirit Dominum vivificantem, John Paul continued: “From this (same) exhortation now comes the present encyclical on the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; with the Father and the Son he is adored and glorified: a divine Person, he is at the center of the Christian faith and is the source and dynamic power of the Church’s renewal.”

Thus in the Great Circle of Love, we come to the place whereby we meditate on the mission of the Holy Spirit and His Life in the Body of Christ. We have already seen the centrality of His role in the lives of Jesus, the Son of God, and the Virgin Mary. As with them, we need to understand His place in our own lives.

John Paul II added: “In our own age, then, we are called anew by the ever ancient and ever new faith of the Church, to draw near to the Holy Spirit as the giver of life….The Church is also responding to certain deep desires which she believes she can discern in people’s hearts today: a fresh discovery of God in his transcendent reality as the infinite Spirit, just as Jesus presents him to the Samaritan woman; the need to adore him ‘in spirit and truth’ (cf. Jn 4:24,) the hope of finding in him the secret of love and the power of a ‘new creation'(cf. Rm 8:22; Gal 6:15): yes, precisely the giver of life.”

Let us internalize these thoughts and ponder them, as we begin our reflections on the role of the Holy Spirit in our journey to the Father’s House. Much has been contemplated already, simply because of the relationship of the Holy Spirit with Jesus and Mary, but we need to ponder and take seriously the mission of the Holy Spirit in the context of our own restoration and rehabilitation. Jesus confirmed this when He told the Apostles: “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you…when  he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you (Jn 16:7-15).” Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit! Amen.

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Immaculata

St Maximilian Kolbe is the second Marian teacher referred to in a previous blog post, the other being St Louis de Montfort. Kolbe is stunning in his approach to Mariology. While neither one of these great saints is exclusive with regard to the following topics, Kolbe explores the depths of the gifts given to Mary, whereas de Montfort focuses more on showing us the way and gives us the reasons why to give ourselves to Mary. Thus we continue to expand our understanding of Mary’s relationship with the Holy Trinity and Her participation in salvation history.

In his last writings before being imprisoned at Auschwitz, we find the quintessence of Kolbe’s Marian teachings. It is the consequence of his perennial question: “Who are you, O Immaculate Conception?” A question best understood from his own answer: “The path of creation goes from the Father, through the Son and by the Holy Spirit; this return trail goes from the Spirit, through the Son back to the Father. In other words, by the Spirit, the Son becomes incarnate in the womb of the Immaculata and through the Son, love returns to the Father. And She (the Immaculata), grafted into the love of the Blessed Trinity, becomes from the first moment of Her existence forever thereafter the ‘complement of the Blessed Trinity'” (Sketch, 1941, Feb. 17).

This is why when we describe the Great Circle of Love, Mary is included in the way back to the Father, not as a devotional reality but in Her very essence; that is, as the Immaculate Conception. It is admitted that such a concept can be rather overwhelming to our understanding, so it is fitting that it becomes the continuous subject in our contemplation of Mary, as it was for Kolbe. We need to keep bringing back these truths into our heart of hearts, in order not to dilute our veneration of Mary as “only a stepping stone” or to practical devotions, as valuable as the latter are. Kolbe, in fact, superlatively plumbs the depths of Mary’s union with the Holy Spirit – astonishingly so – by explaining the Holy Spirit as the “uncreated eternal conception” and His relationship with Mary as the “created Immaculate Conception” (ibid.). Through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary, with her divine Son, becomes an integral reality towards our return jouney to the Father.

This same Holy Spirit is active in our lives, which will be our next consideration in understanding the journey back to the Father: that is, the Great Circle of Love. In an article written before his election to the papacy, Benedict XVI said: “The Holy Spirit is recognizable in the way in which He forms human life. A life formed from faith is in turn a sign of the Holy Spirit. To speak of ‘Christian spirituality’ means to speak about the Holy Spirit. He makes himself recognizable by gaining a new center for human life. Speaking about the Holy Spirit includes looking at Him in man, to whom He has given himself” (Ratzinger, J. 1998. Communio [Summer ed.]).

A Mother’s place

The words “ocean” and “boundless” are often used by the saints and scholars in describing the graces Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ and our mother, has received from God. With that in mind, it is daunting to try to attempt to write about Her without going directly to their writings. With such a solid foundation, we can grow in our knowledge and understanding of Mary’s place in both salvation history and our personal lives. Hence such an undertaking must start with proper perspective, in order to thoroughly set forth and serve the truth about Mary.

St Louis-Marie de Montfort begins the first chapter of his Treatise True Devotion to Mary with these words: “With the whole Church I acknowledge that Mary, being a mere creature fashioned by the hands of God is, compared to His infinite majesty, less than an atom, or rather is simply nothing, since He alone can say, ‘I am He who is.’ Consequently, this great Lord, who is ever independent and self-sufficient, never had and does not now have any absolute need of the Blessed Virgin for the accomplishment of His will and the manifestation of His glory. To do all things He has only to will them. However, I declare that, considering things as they are, because God has decided to begin and accomplish His greatest works through the Blessed Virgin ever since He created her, we can safely believe that He will not change His plan in the time to come, for He is God and therefore does not change in His thoughts or His way of acting.”

“God the Father gave His only Son to the world only through Mary. Whatever desires the patriarchs may have cherished, whatever entreaties the prophets and saints of the Old Law may have had for 4,000 years to obtain that treasure, it was Mary alone who merited it and found grace before God by the power of her prayers and the perfection of her virtues. ‘The world being unworthy,’ said Saint Augustine, ‘to receive the Son of God directly from the hands of the Father, he gave His Son to Mary for the world to receive Him from her.’ The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary. God the Holy Spirit formed Jesus Christ in Mary but only after having asked her consent through one of the chief ministers of His court.”

“God the Father imparted to Mary His fruitfulness as far as a mere creature was capable of receiving it, to enable her to bring forth His Son and all the members of His mystical body. The plan adopted by the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity in the Incarnation, the first coming of Jesus Christ, is adhered to each day in an invisible manner throughout the Church and they will pursue it to the end of time until the last coming of Jesus Christ.”

“God the Father gathered all the waters together and called them the seas maria. He gathered all His graces together and called them Mary Maria. The great God has a treasury or storehouse full of riches in which He has enclosed all that is beautiful, resplendent, rare and precious, even His own Son. This immense treasury is none other than Mary whom the saints call the ‘treasury of the Lord.’ From her fullness all men are made rich.”

“God the Son imparted to His mother all that He gained by His life and death, namely, His infinite merits and His eminent virtues. He made her the treasurer of all His Father had given Him as heritage. Through her He applies His merits to His members and through her He transmits His virtues and distributes His graces. She is His mystical channel, His aqueduct, through which He causes His mercies to flow gently and abundantly.”

“God the Holy Spirit entrusted His wondrous gifts to Mary, His faithful spouse, and chose her as the dispenser of all He possesses, so that she distributes all His gifts and graces to whom she wills, as much as she wills, how she wills and when she wills. No heavenly gift is given to men which does not pass through her virginal hands. Such indeed is the will of God, who has decreed that we should have all things through Mary, so that, making herself poor and lowly, and hiding herself in the depths of nothingness during her whole life, she might be enriched, exalted and honoured by Almighty God. Such are the views of the Church and the early Fathers.”

Thus begins the inspired teachings of St Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. A prayerful study in the link provided will greatly enhance one’s own personal journey towards the Father’s house. As De Montfort stated: “God has decided to begin and accomplish His greatest works through the Blessed Virgin.”  This is especially true in regards to each individual in the Mystical Body of Christ.