“Pope Francis is redefining his office and revitalizing Catholicism”.

Pope Francis: The World’s Best Turnaround CEO

Despite the creation of two saints and first Pope to retire in 600 years in attendance, there was no question that Pope Francis was the star of the show last Sunday in Vatican City. More than 500,000 gathered near St. Peter’s Square with another 300,000 watching on monitors throughout Rome as the Pope canonized John XXIII as well as John Paul II, then rode through the masses to the Tiber River in his open-top car.

In just 13 months Pope Francis is redefining his office and revitalizing Catholicism. As Adrian Wooldridge of The Economist sees it, Francis isn’t just walking in the footsteps of St. Peter but far less saintly figures who have brought failing corporations back to life.

“He’s probably one of the best turnaround CEOs we’ve ever seen,” says Wooldridge in the attached clip. “The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s largest multi-national [corporation]. [Francis] came in at a very low point. People were leaving the church, there was an abuse scandal. Within the space of a single year he’s managed to turn around the sentiment.”

Back from the Depths

Francis certainly had his work cut out for him. For decades the Catholic Church has struggled under the weight of sexual impropriety and financial mismanagement. Francis has addressed issues of gender, sacked four of the five Cardinals who had been mismanaging the Vatican bank, and lived the example of dedicating the Church to serving the poor.

It was the proper message of humility, indeed humanity, at exactly the right time. Even among the faithful in the U.S., the Papacy has been viewed as clueless. Today under Francis a clear majority of U.S. Catholics view the Church as being “in touch with the needs of Catholics.” It’s an accomplishment not even the Sainted John Paul II was able to muster.

Though a healthy 24% of American adults consider themselves to be Catholic, that number represents a steep decline from the 31% of the same group who say they were raised Catholic. Fully 10% of the Americans are former Catholics. Only disproportionate levels of Catholicism among immigrants keeps the size of the market as large as it is.

The Pope’s 85% approval rating among Catholics has politicians on both sides of the American aisle trying to curry his favor. After the Pope tweeted (yes, Tweeted) his thoughts on inequality earlier this year, Paul Ryan, Harry Reid and Bernie Sanders all claimed allegience with his thinkings. This sweep of the Right, Left and Independent is a D.C. trinity that hasn’t been seen in decades.

Looking Internationally

There are more than one billion Catholics in the world, 90% of whom live outside the U.S. They are the Pope’s customers and sales staff and their passion for Francis is perhaps unprecedented. By stripping away some pretense of his office and directly addressing hideous moral failings of the past and present, Francis removed a spiritual scarlet letter from those who couldn’t reconcile their faith with the church.

As long as Francis has the loyalty of these masses, those on the inside who oppose him do so carefully and against the will of global Catholics. Wooldridge says Church insiders are still fighting against change, but that’s as much as issue of geography and tradition. In the big picture the Vatican needs to look outside of itself and away from Italy, and into the emerging world. As the first Latin American Pope, the Argentine Francis has thus far stayed true to this vision, even when it’s meant alienating the people surrounding him.

The Future

“The old Italian establishment is fighting a losing battle. The Church’s customer base has shifted very dramatically to the emerging world,” Wooldridge says. “The power the Pope has, the charisma he has, and his bond with emerging markets will allow him to push forward with this.”

Charisma is an interesting word choice. Though wasted on descriptions of pop stars, charisma is literally a divinely-bestowed power that inspires devotion and followers. In Francis, the Catholic Church has the true charismatic leader it’s been missing since John Paul II’s prime.

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Taken from: http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/pope-francis–the-world-s-best-turnaround-ceo-190402700.html

A tale of four popes: Today Pope Francis canonized two predecessors in the presence of another

Monday, Apr 28, 2014 07:45 AM +1000

Retired Pope Benedict XVI was there: It was the first time ever that a retired and reigning pope had Mass together

and , Associated Press

Topics: Pope Francis I, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, pope john XXIII, sainthood, canonize,

A tale of four popes: Today Pope Francis canonized two predecessors in the presence of anotherEnlargePope Francis is driven through the crowd in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 27, 2014. Pope Francis has declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in an unprecedented canonization ceremony made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) (Credit: Vadim Ghirda)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Two 20th-century popes who changed the course of the Catholic Church became saints Sunday as Pope Francis honored John XXIII and John Paul II in a delicate balancing act aimed at bringing together the conservative and progressive wings of the church.

As if to drive the message of unity home, Francis invited retired Pope Benedict XVI to join him on the altar of St. Peter’s Square, the first time a reigning and retired pope have celebrated Mass together in public in the 2,000-year history of the church.

An estimated 800,000 people – many of them from John Paul’s native Poland – filled St. Peter’s, the streets around it and bridges over the Tiber River, a huge turnout but only half the size of the crowd that came out for John Paul’s 2011 beatification.

John reigned from 1958-1963 and is a hero to liberal Catholics for having convened the Second Vatican Council. The meetings brought the church into the modern era by allowing Mass to be celebrated in local languages rather than Latin and encouraged greater dialogue with people of other faiths, particularly Jews.

During his globe-trotting, quarter-century papacy, John Paul II helped topple communism and invigorated a new generation of Catholics, while his defense of core church teaching on abortion, marriage and other hot-button issues heartened conservatives after the turbulent 1960s.

Benedict was one of John Paul’s closest confidantes and went on to preside over a deeply tradition-minded eight-year papacy. His successor Francis seems a pope much more inspired by the pastoral, simple style of the “good pope” John.

Yet Francis offered each new saint heartfelt praise in his homily, saying John had allowed himself to be led by God to call the council, and hailing John Paul’s focus on the family. It’s an issue that Francis has asked the church as a whole to take up for discussion with a two-year debate starting this fall.

“They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century,” Francis said. “They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them.”

Benedict put John Paul on the fast-track for possible sainthood just weeks after his 2005 death, responding to the chants of “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood Now!” that erupted during his funeral Mass. John Paul’s canonization is now the fastest in modern times.

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Taken from: http://www.salon.com/2014/04/27/a_tale_of_four_popes_today

Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

 Related video report by Jerome Socolovsky.

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On April 27, two popes – John the XXIII and John Paul II – will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. The dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.“Saint Now!” has been the chant of Pope John Paul II’s impatient fans since his death in 2005. Only six years later the healing of an ailing Costa Rican woman was credited as his second required miracle.According to Jesuit priest and Vatican watcher Thomas Reese, Pope Francis was then asked by the people in charge of the canonization when he wanted to schedule it.“And Pope Francis’ response was, ‘well what about John XXIII?’ And they said, ‘well, he’s only got one miracle, and he needs two miracles in order to become a saint, in order to be canonized’,” Reese recalled. “And his response was, ‘Says who? He’s the Pope!’ ”
Posters all around town say “Communal Celebration of the canonization of John Paul II, April 27,” Cracow, Poland, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)Posters all around town say “Communal Celebration of the canonization of John Paul II, April 27,” Cracow, Poland, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)
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Posters all around town say “Communal Celebration of the canonization of John Paul II, April 27,” Cracow, Poland, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)

Posters all around town say “Communal Celebration of the canonization of John Paul II, April 27,” Cracow, Poland, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)

John Paul II is certainly the better known of the two. The Polish pope journeyed to the far corners of the earth and his papacy is often believed to have accelerated the fall of Communism.

John XXIII only became pope in 1958 because the cardinals couldn’t decide whom they wanted, says Reese.

“He was an old man,” explained Reese. “They elected him as kind of a placesitter.”

But he convened the Second Vatican Council to modernize a seemingly anachronistic institution.

“This was an extraordinary move because we hadn’t had an ecumenical council like this in a long, long time,” Reese noted.

The council decided Mass no longer had to be in Latin and opened a dialogue with other faiths.

Every 22nd of the month since Pope John Paul II's death, people in his hometown have been holding a vigil, hoping he would be canonized, Crakow, Poland, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)Every 22nd of the month since Pope John Paul II’s death, people in his hometown have been holding a vigil, hoping he would be canonized, Crakow, Poland, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)
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Every 22nd of the month since Pope John Paul II's death, people in his hometown have been holding a vigil, hoping he would be canonized, Crakow, Poland, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)

Every 22nd of the month since Pope John Paul II’s death, people in his hometown have been holding a vigil, hoping he would be canonized, Crakow, Poland, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)

Some traditionalists feel John XXIII and the council went too far, while some liberals feel John Paul II was dogmatic and covered up clerical sex abuse. Francis wants to reconcile these groups, Reese explained.

“So this is a symbolic way for him to say we’re all one family,” he said. “We’re all united by Jesus Christ, and we can all come together to celebrate both of these men.”

The two popes are both examples for clergy today, according to Rev. Richard de Lillio, a professor of homiletics at Catholic University of America in Washington.

“I think what they had that every preacher should have is dynamism,” Lillio said, “and the second thing they had that every preacher should have is they preached what they believed and witnessed it.”

Fans of Francis say that also describes the current pope.


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.
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Resurrection of Jesus Christ

RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST
A. J. Maas


Resurrection is the rising again from the dead, the resumption of life. In this article, we shall treat only of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. (The General Resurrection of the Body will be covered in another article.) The fact of Christ’s Resurrection, the theories opposed to this fact, its characteristics, and the reasons for its importance must be considered in distinct paragraphs.A. The Fact Of Christ’s Resurrection

The main sources which directly attest the fact of Christ’s Resurrection are the Four Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul. Easter morning is so rich in incident, and so crowded with interested persons, that its complete history presents a rather complicated tableau. It is not surprising, therefore, that the partial accounts contained in each of the Four Gospels appear at first sight hard to harmonize. But whatever exegetic view as to the visit to the sepulchre by the pious women and the appearance of the angels we may defend, we cannot deny the Evangelists’ agreement as to the fact that the risen Christ appeared to one or more persons. According to St. Matthew, He appeared to the holy women, and again on a mountain in Galilee; according to St. Mark, He was seen by Mary Magdalen, by the two disciples at Emmaus, and the Eleven before his Ascension into heaven; according to St. Luke, He walked with the disciples to Emmaus, appeared to Peter and to the assembled disciples in Jerusalem; according to St. John, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalen, to the ten Apostles on Easter Sunday, to the Eleven a week later, and to the seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. St. Paul (I Cor., xv, 3-8) enumerates another series of apparitions of Jesus after His Resurrection; he was seen by Cephas, by the Eleven, by more than 500 brethren, many of whom were still alive at the time of the Apostle’s writing, by James, by all the Apostles, and lastly by Paul himself.

Here is an outline of a possible harmony of the Evangelists’ account concerning the principal events of Easter Sunday:

• The holy women carrying the spices previously prepared start out for the sepulchre before dawn, and reach it after sunrise; they are anxious about the heavy stone, but know nothing of the official guard of the sepulchre (Matt., xxviii, 1-3; Mark, xvi, 1-3; Luke, xxiv, 1; John, xx, 1).

• The angel frightened the guards by his brightness, put them to flight, rolled away the stone, and seated himself (not upon, ep autou), but above (epano autou) the stone (Matt. xxviii, 2-4).

• Mary Magdalen, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome approach the sepulchre, and see the stone rolled back, whereupon Mary Magdalen immediately returns to inform the Apostles (Mark, xvi, 4;

Luke, xxiv, 2; John xx, 1-2).

• The other two holy women enter the sepulchre, find an angel seated in the vestibule, who shows them the empty sepulchre, announces the Resurrection, and commissions them to tell the disciples and Peter that they shall see Jesus in Galilee (Matt., xxviii, 5-7; Mark, xvi, 5-7).

• A second group of holy women, consisting of Joanna and her companions, arrive at the sepulchre, where they have probably agreed to meet the first group, enter the empty interior, and are admonished by two angels that Jesus has risen according to His prediction (Luke, xxiv, 10).

• Not long after, Peter and John, who were notified by Mary Magdalen, arrive at the sepulchre and find the linen cloth in such a position as to exclude the supposition that the body was stolen; for they lay simply flat on the ground, showing that the sacred body had vanished out of them without touching them. When John notices this he believes (John, xv, 3-10).

• Mary Magdalen returns to the sepulchre, sees first two angels within, and then Jesus Himself (John, xx, 11-l6; Mark, xvi, 9).

• The two groups of pious women, who probably met on their return to the city, are favored with the sight of Christ arisen, who commissions them to tell His brethren that they will see him in Galilee (Matt., xxviii, 8-10; Mark, xvi, 8).

• The holy women relate their experiences to the Apostles, but find no belief (Mark, xvi, 10-11; Luke, xxiv, 9-11).

• Jesus appears to the disciples, at Emmaus, and they return to Jerusalem; the Apostles appear to waver between doubt and belief (Mark, xvi, 12-13; Luke, xxiv, 13-35).

• Christ appears to Peter, and therefore Peter and John firmly believe in the Resurrection (Luke, xxiv, 34; John, xx, 8).

• After the return of the disciples from Emmaus, Jesus appears to all the Apostles excepting Thomas (Mark, xvi, 14; Luke, xxiv, 36-43; John, xx, 19-25).

The harmony of the other apparitions of Christ after His Resurrection presents no special difficulties.

Briefly, therefore, the fact of Christ’s Resurrection is attested by more than 500 eyewitnesses, whose experience, simplicity, and uprightness of life rendered them incapable of inventing such a fable, who lived at a time when any attempt to deceive could have been easily discovered, who had nothing in this life to gain, but everything to lose by their testimony, whose moral courage exhibited in their apostolic life can be explained only by their intimate conviction of the objective truth of their message. Again the fact of Christ’s Resurrection is attested by the eloquent silence of the Synagogue which had done everything to prevent deception, which could have easily discovered deception, if there had been any, which opposed only sleeping witnesses to the testimony of the Apostles, which did not punish the alleged carelessness of the official guard, and which could not answer the testimony of the Apostles except by threatening them “that they speak no more in this name to any man” (Acts, iv, 17). Finally the thousands and millions, both Jews and Gentiles, who believed the testimony of the Apostles in spite of all the disadvantages following from such a belief, in short the origin of the Church, requires for its explanation the reality of Christ’s Resurrection, fot the rise of the Church without the Resurrection would have been a greater miracle than the Resurrection itself.


B. Opposing Theories

By what means can the evidence for Christ’s Resurrection by overthrown? Three theories of explanation have been advanced, though the first two have hardly any adherents in our day.

(1)The Swoon Theory

There is the theory of those who assert that Christ did not really die upon the cross, that His supposed death was only a temporary swoon, and that His Resurrection was simply a return to consciousness. This was advocated by Paulus (“Exegetisches Handbuch”, 1842, II, p. 929) and in a modified form by Hase (“Gesch. Jesu”, n. 112), but it does not agree with the data furnished by the Gospels. The scourging and the crown of thorns, the carrying of the cross and the crucifixion, the three hours on the cross and the piercing of the Sufferer’s side cannot have brought on a mere swoon. His real death is attested by the centurion and the soldiers, by the friends of Jesus and by his most bitter enemies. His stay in a sealed sepulchre for thirty-six hours, in an atmosphere poisoned by the exhalations of a hundred pounds of spices, which would have of itself sufficed to cause death. Moreover, if Jesus had merely returned from a swoon, the feelings of Easter morning would have been those of sympathy rather than those of joy and triumph, the Apostles would have been roused to the duties of a sick chamber rather than to apostolic work, the life of the powerful wonderworker would have ended in ignoble solitude and inglorious obscurity, and His vaunted sinlessness would have changed into His silent approval of a lie as the foundation stone of His Church. No wonder that later critics of the Resurrection, like Strauss, have heaped contempt on the old theory of a swoon.

(2) Imposition Theory

The disciples, it is said, stole the body of Jesus from the grave, and then proclaimed to men that their Lord had risen. This theory was anticipated by the Jews who “gave a great sum of money to the soldiers, saying: Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him away when we were asleep” (Matt., xxviii, 12 sq.). The same was urged by Celsus (Orig., “Contra Cels.”, II, 56) with some difference of detail. But to assume that the Apostles with a burden of this kind upon their consciences could have preached a kingdom of truth and righteousness as the one great effort of their lives, and that for the sake of that kingdom they could have suffered even unto death, is to assume one of those moral impossibilities which may pass for a moment in the heat of controversy, but must be dismissed without delay in the hour of good reflection.

(3) Vision Theory

This theory as generally understood by its advocates does not allow visions caused by a Divine intervention, but only such as are the product of human agencies. For if a Divine intervention be admitted, we may as well believe, as far as principles are concerned, that God raised Jesus from the dead. But where in the present instance are the human agencies which might cause these visions? The idea of a resurrection from the grave was familiar to the disciples from their Jewish faith; they had also vague intimations in the prophecies of the Old Testament; finally, Jesus Himself had always associated His Resurrection with the predictions of his death. On the other hand, the disciples’ state of mind was one of great excitement; they treasured the memory of Christ with a fondness which made it almost impossible for them to believe that He was gone. In short, their whole mental condition was such as needed only the application of a spark to kindle the flame. The spark was applied by Mary Magdalen, and the flame at once spread with the rapidity and force of a conflagration. What she believed that she had seen, others immediately believed that they must see. Their expectations were fulfilled, and the conviction seized the members of the early Church that the Lord had really risen from the dead.

Such is the vision theory commonly defended by recent critics of the Resurrection. But however ingeniously it may be devised, it is quite impossible from an historical point of view.

• It is incompatible with the state of mind of the Apostles; the theory presupposes faith and expectancy on the part of the Apostles, while in point of fact the disciples’ faith and expectancy followed their vision of the risen Christ.

• It is inconsistent with the nature of Christ’s manifestations; they ought to have been connected with heavenly glory, or they should have continued the former intimate relations of Jesus with His disciples, while actually and consistently they presented quite a new phase that could not have been expected.

• It does not agree with the conditions of the early Christian community; after the first excitement of Easter Sunday, the disciples as a body are noted for their cool deliberation rather than the exalted enthusiasm of a community of visionaries.

• It is incompatible with the length of time during which the apparitions lasted; visions such as the critics suppose have never been known to last long, while some of Christ’s manifestations lasted a considerable period.

• It is not consistent with the fact that the manifestations were made to numbers at the same instant.

• It does not agree with the place where most of the manifestations were made: visionary appearances would have been expected in Galilee, while most apparitions of Jesus occurred in Judea.

• It is inconsistent with the fact that the visions came to a sudden end on the day of Ascension.

Keim admits that enthusiasm, nervousness, and mental excitement on the part of the disciples do not supply a rational explanation of the facts as related in the Gospels. According to him, the visions were directly granted by God and the glorified Christ; they may even include a “corporeal appearance” for those who fear that without this they would lose all. But Keim’s theory satisfies neither the Church, since it abandons all the proofs of a bodily Resurrection of Jesus, nor the enemies of the Church, since it admits many of the Church’s dogmas; nor again is it consistent with itself, since it grants God’s special intervention in proof of the Church’s faith, though it starts with the denial of the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, which is one of the principal objects of that faith.

(4) Modernist View

The Holy Office describes and condemns in the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh propositions of the Decree “Lamentabili”, the views advocated by a fourth class of opponents of the Resurrection. The former of these propositions reads: “The Resurrection of our Saviour is not properly a fact of the historical order, but a fact of the purely supernatural order neither proved nor provable, which Christian consciousness has little by little inferred from other facts.” This statement agrees with, and is further explained by the words of Loisy (“Autour d’un petit livre”, p. viii, 120-121, 169; “L’Evangile et l’Eglise”, pp. 74-78; 120-121; 171). According to Loisy, firstly, the entrance into life immortal of one risen from the dead is not subject to observation; it is a supernatural, hyper-historical fact, not capable of historical proof. The proofs alleged for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ are inadequate; the empty sepulchre is only an indirect argument, while the apparitions of the risen Christ are open to suspicion on a priori grounds, being sensible impressions of a supernatural reality; and they are doubtful evidence from a critical point of view, on account of the discrepancies in the various Scriptural narratives and the mixed character of the detail connected with the apparitions. Secondly, if one prescinds from the faith of the Apostles, the testimony of the New Testament does not furnish a certain argument for the fact of the Resurrection. This faith of the Apostles is concerned not so much with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as with His immortal life; being based on the apparitions, which are unsatisfactory evidence from an historical point of view, its force is appreciated only by faith itself; being a development of the idea of an immortal Messias, it is an evolution of Christian consciousness, though it is at the same time a corrective of the scandal of the Cross. The Holy Office rejects this view of the Resurrection when it condemns the thirty-seventh proposition in the Decree “Lamentabili”: “The faith in the Resurrection of Christ pointed at the beginning no so much to the fact of the Resurrection, as to the immortal life of Christ with God.”

Besides the authoritative rejection of the foregoing view, we may submit the following three considerations which render it untenable: First, the contention that the Resurrection of Christ cannot be proved historically is not in accord with science. Science does not know enough about the limitations and the properties of a body raised from the dead to immortal life to warrant the assertion that such a body cannot be perceived by the senses; again in the case of Christ, the empty sepulchre with all its concrete circumstances cannot be explained except by a miraculous Divine intervention as supernatural in its character as the Resurrection of Jesus. Secondly, history does not allow us to regard the belief in the Resurrection as the result of a gradual evolution in Christian consciousness. The apparitions were not a mere projection of the disciples’ Messianic hope and expectation; their Messianic hope and expectations had to be revived by the apparitions. Again, the Apostles did not begin with preaching the immortal life of Christ with God, but they preached Christ’s Resurrection from the very beginning, they insisted on it as a fundamental fact and they described even some of the details connected with this fact: Acts, ii, 24, 31; iii, 15,26; iv, 10; v, 30; x, 39-40; xiii, 30, 37; xvii, 31-2; Rom., i,4; iv, 25; vi, 4,9; viii, 11, 34; x, 7; xiv, 9; I Cor., xv, 4, 13 sqq.; etc. Thirdly, the denial of the historical certainty of Christ’s Resurrection involves several historical blunders: it questions the objective reality of the apparitions without any historical grounds for such a doubt; it denies the fact of the empty sepulchre in spite of solid historical evidence to the contrary; it questions even the fact of Christ’s burial in Joseph’s sepulchre, though this fact is based on the clear and simply unimpeachable testimony of history.


C. Character Of Christ’s Resurrection

The Resurrection of Christ has much in common with the general resurrection; even the transformation of His body and of His bodily life is of the same kind as that which awaits the blessed in their resurrection. But the following peculiarities must be noted:

• Christ’s Resurrection is necessarily a glorious one; it implies not merely the reunion of body and soul, but also the glorification of the body.

• Christ’s body was to know no corruption, but rose again soon after death, when sufficient time had elapsed to leave no doubt as to the reality of His death.

• Christ was the first to rise unto life immortal; those raised before Him died again (Col., i, 18; I Cor., xv, 20).

• As the Divine power which raised Christ from the grave was His own power, He rose from the dead by His own power (John, ii, 19; x, l7-18).

• Since the Resurrection had been promised as the main proof of Christ’s Divine mission, it has a greater dogmatic importance than any other fact. “If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (I Cor., xv, 14).


D. Importance Of The Resurrection

Besides being the fundamental argument for our Christian belief, the Resurrection is important for the following reasons:

• It shows the justice of God who exalted Christ to a life of glory, as Christ had humbled Himself unto death (Phil., ii, 8-9).

• The Resurrection completed the mystery of our salvation and redemption; by His death Christ freed us from sin, and by His Resurrection He restored to us the most important privileges lost by sin (Rom., iv, 25).

• By His Resurrection we acknowledge Christ as the immortal God, the efficient and exemplary cause of our own resurrection (I Cor., xv, 21; Phil., iii, 20-21), and as the model and the support of our new life of grace (Rom., vi, 4-6; 9-11).

A.J. Maas
Transcribed by Donald J. Boon
Dedicated to Bishop Andre Cimichella of Montreal, and to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha


From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Electronic version copyright © 1996 by New Advent, Inc.
Taken from the New Advent Web Page (www.knight.org/advent).


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Mary, Gateway to the Heart of Christ

 

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“The key to De Montfort’s Marian spirituality is that he considered Our Lady to be the infallible and chosen gate to the heart of Christ To Jesus through Mary: it is Christ Himself Who is at the centre of True Devotion”.

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Arguably the best books ever written about the Mother of God are Saint Louis de Montfort’s Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin and his The Secret of Mary.

 

http://www.amazon.com/True-Devotion-Mary-Louis-Monfort/dp/1905574363

True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin is one of the greatest and most celebrated books ever written about Our Lady. Praised by popes, mystics and theologians, this profound and powerful book presents Mary as the essential and infallible key to the heart of Jesus. Nowhere will you find a deeper and more life-changing book on that quintessentially Catholic doctrine: the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Christian and the life of the Church. Unpublished during the saint’s life time, it has enjoyed the endorsement of the many outstanding popes the Church has been blessed with since its discovery in 1842. John Paul II, in particular, was its tireless champion, crediting True Devotion with a turning-point in his spiritual life, adopting his motto, Totus tuus, from St. Louis. The key to De Montfort’s Marian spirituality is that he considered Our Lady to be the infallible and chosen gate to the heart of Christ To Jesus through Mary: it is Christ Himself Who is at the centre of True Devotion.

[End of quote]

 

 

In recent times, Fr. Michael Gaitley (MIC) has made the True Devotion more easy to grasp, more user-friendly and simpler to practice for the sake of modern readers, post-Vatican II, with his 33 Days to Morning Glory (A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration, 2013).

 

Though lacking the depth of Saint Louis’s writings immersed as they are in biblical wisdom, Fr. Gaitley’s excellent book nonetheless contains inspiring passages from four giants of Marian spirituality: St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Blessed (soon to be St.) Pope John Paul II.

Unforgettable here are Mother Teresa’s heart-rending words on the thirst of Christ.

The whole point of True Devotion is that we sinners ought never to approach Almighty God, especially the Eucharistic Lord, without being clothed in Mary’s garments. We must put on Mary so to speak, through the practice of True Devotion, so as not to be rejected by God. Mary is the grace filled vessel of Almighty God. For this reason we find that many of her titles present her as a receptacle for the Divine, or a holy edifice, or a gateway, as already stated. Consider, for instance, this series of titles in the well-known Litany of Loreto:

 

Seat of wisdom,

Cause of our joy,

Spiritual vessel,

Vessel of honor,

Singular vessel of devotion,

Mystical rose,

Tower of David,

Tower of ivory.

House of gold,

Ark of the covenant,

Gate of heaven.

 

Saint Louis, using patristic terms, adds to these titles when writing of the great Marian saints to come at the end times (the likes of Maximilian Kolbe, Mother Teresa and John Paul II). She is, he says, “the Temple of Solomon and the City of God” (#’s 47-48):

 

…. this [Marian awakening] will happen especially towards the end of the world, and indeed soon, because Almighty God and his holy Mother are to raise up great saints who will surpass in holiness most other saints as much as the cedars of Lebanon tower above little shrubs. ….

 

48. These great souls filled with grace and zeal will be chosen to oppose the enemies of God who are raging on all sides. They will be exceptionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Illumined by her light, strengthened by her food, guided by her spirit, supported by her arm, sheltered under her protection, they will fight with one hand and build with the other. With one hand they will give battle, overthrowing and crushing heretics and their heresies, schismatics and their schisms, idolaters and their idolatries, sinners and their wickedness. With the other hand they will build the temple of the true Solomon and the mystical city of God, namely, the Blessed Virgin, who is called by the Fathers of the Church the Temple of Solomon and the City of God. By word and example they will draw all men to a true devotion to her and though this will make many enemies, it will also bring about many victories and much glory to God alone. This is what God revealed to St. Vincent Ferrer, that outstanding apostle of his day, as he has amply shown in one of his works.

 

This seems to have been foretold by the Holy Spirit in Psalm 58: “The Lord will reign in Jacob and all the ends of the earth. They will be converted towards evening and they will be as hungry as dogs and they will go around the city to find something to eat.” This city around which men will roam at the end of the world seeking conversion and the appeasement of the hunger they have for justice is the most Blessed Virgin, who is called by the Holy Spirit the City of God. By word and example they will draw all men to a true devotion to her and though this will make many enemies, it will also bring about many victories and much glory to God alone. ….

[End of quote]

 

Indeed, Saint Louis de Montfort himself ‘made many enemies’, especially amongst the Jansenists, for, as we read at the site Sic Semper Tyrannis, in relation to this particular section of the True Devotion (http://sicsempertyrannisjmj.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/saint-louis-marie-de-montfort-and.html):

 

These striking words were penned by [Saint Louis] in 1712 in La Rochelle on the West Coast of France as part of the greatest book ever written about Our Lady. Just four year later on this day [April 28] in 1716 our Saint would pass to his eternal reward, he was just 43. He had been poisoned by Jansenists a few years earlier and never one to worry about his health (for he was an incredibly strong and tough man) he never took a break and he continued his work preaching to the faithful throughout the countryside of southern France. He was one of those great Saints who burned themselves out early in life by their intense love for God.

[End of quote]

 

The patristic truth about Mary as God’s holy Temple (his House of Gold) does not spoil the fact that Jesus Christ himself is “the new Temple of God”. Pope Benedict XVI explained this beautifully in his 2011 homily on the Feast of the Presentation of the LORD (our emphasis added, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20110202_vita-consacrata_en.html):

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

On today’s Feast we contemplate the Lord Jesus, whom Mary and Joseph bring to the Temple “to present him to the Lord” (Lk 2:22). This Gospel scene reveals the mystery of the Son of the Virgin, the consecrated One of the Father who came into the world to do his will faithfully (cf. Heb 10:5-7).

 

Simeon identifies him as “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Lk 2:32) and announces with prophetic words his supreme offering to God and his final victory (cf. Lk 2:32-35). This is the meeting point of the two Testaments, Old and New. Jesus enters the ancient temple; he who is the new Temple of God: he comes to visit his people, thus bringing to fulfilment obedience to the Law and ushering in the last times of salvation. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

Benedict wrote similarly in his book, Jesus of Nazareth (Part Two): “The risen Lord is the new Temple, the real meeting place between God and man”.

 

Greek Orthodox tradition has placed great emphasis upon the virginal Mary, the Theotokos, as the very Holy of Holies itself, the finite dwelling place of the infinite God in his Temple. Far more controversial is this tradition’s suggestion that the child Mary was actually allowed by the high priest to enter the very Holy of Holies when she came to the Temple (http://www.monachos.net/conversation/topic/1815-the-theotokos-in-the-holy-of-holies/):

 

St. Gregory Palamas in his “On the Entry into the Holy of Holies” said that Mary, from a very young child, grew up at the Temple in the Holy of Holies.

What is the basis of this story? Why should we accept it? It seems to me that St. Gregory drew or quoted a mythical portrait of Mary to make a mystical point, but I think the myth (if this is a myth) actually weakens his otherwise beautiful homily. It seems this story is highly imaginative and overdrawn in some Greek fashion, but has no basis in Scripture nor is it true to any Hebrew customs that I know of.

It seems highly unlikely that a female child would be allowed in the Holy of Holies when the High Priest himself was allowed in there only once a year. I do not know of any Hebrew custom that allowed females access to the inner courts of the Temple, much less the Holy of Holies.

[End of quote]

 

But was, perhaps, an inspired exception made in the case of the young Virgin Mary? Such, at least, is the opinion of Dr. Taylor Marshall (see p. 20). No one would dare say, however, that Mary actually became a priest – and is there not a lesson here for our times, too? All that Mary was, even to her becoming Queen of the Apostles, she was never ordained. (Of course all believers are priests, we are a “kingdom of priests” or a “royal priesthood”). Pope Francis clearly explains the situation, “the reservation of the priesthood to males”, in his marvellous apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”):

 

104. Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded. The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general.

It must be remembered that when we speak of sacramental power “we are in the realm of function, not that of dignity or holiness”.[73] The ministerial priesthood is one means employed by Jesus for the service of his people, yet our great dignity derives from baptism, which is accessible to all. The configuration of the priest to Christ the head – namely, as the principal source of grace – does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others. In the Church, functions “do not favour the superiority of some vis-à-vis the others”.[74] Indeed, a woman, Mary, is more important than the bishops. Even when the function of ministerial priesthood is considered “hierarchical”, it must be remembered that “it is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members”.[75] Its key and axis is not power understood as domination, but the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist; this is the origin of its authority, which is always a service to God’s people. ….

[End of quote]

 

Edith Stein had also offered some insightful wisdom concerning the topic of female priests: “If we consider the attitude of the Lord himself, we understand that he accepted the free loving services of women for himself and his Apostles, and that women were among his disciples and most intimate confidants. Yet, he did not grant them the priesthood, not even to his mother, Queen of Apostles, who was exalted above all humanity in human perfection and fullness of grace.” (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/cw/post.php?id=731)

 

There is a tragic parallel between the failure of the French Catholic world, in particular, to embrace the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (the Nine First Fridays) in the C18th, and the failure of Catholics to embrace Fatima, the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Five First Saturdays), in the C20th. The consequences of this human ingratitude towards the superabundant salvific graces of Heaven have been horrendous. Jesus himself made the connection between the two historical situations in conversation with Sister Lucia of Fatima:

 

Like the King of France they will repent of it, and they will do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread its errors in the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer.

 

Regarding France we read in the aforementioned Sic Semper Tyrannis article, in connection with St. Louis de Montfort:

 

Just 23 years before Montfort wrote True Devotion the King of France had refused the request of Our Lord, given to him by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, to consecrate that great nation, the Eldest Daughter of the Church, to His Most Sacred Heart.

One hundred years exactly from this refusal God would scourge France for this refusal by allowing it to be racked with the bloody and terrible French Revolution, from which France has never recovered.

 

Did Saint Louis’s missionary efforts help to save a part of France, the Vendée region?

 

The only part of France that did not succumb to the errors of the Revolution, and from which began the Catholic Counter-Revolution, was that very part of France preached to by [Saint Louis de Montfort]. We know this part of France as the Vendee.

 

The most intense period of persecution of Catholics, which was what the French Revolution principally was: a persecution of the Catholic Church, was the “Terror” (1793-1794). And this was only ended when on July 17th 1794 sixteen Carmelite nuns offered their lives to end the slaughter. They were put to death simply for wearing their habits and professing the Catholic faith. Within two weeks the terror ended.

 

From the blood of these Blessed Martyrs it seems that an incredible flourishing of great Saints came about in France, and even elsewhere we began to see great Saints raised up unlike anything that had been seen for many centuries and even back to the days of the apostles. ….

[End of quote]

 

One might ask ‘Where was God?’ in all of these miseries that have befallen the modern world. Pope Benedict XVI, when he visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, and calling himself “a son of Germany,” had prayed and asked why God was silent when 1.5 million victims, most of them Jews, died there during World War Two.

Not surprisingly, this is a question that haunts the Jewish people, as according to the March issue of the “Jews for Jesus” newsletter, David Brickner’s article “Where was God?” (http://gallery.mailchimp.com/2bfbf7a67dbcce0ecd251d41c/files/jfjoz_MARCH_14_ENGLISH.1_2.pdf)

 

One of the most disturbing questions gnawing at the edges of Jewish consciousness is “Where was God when the six million died?” The horrors of the Holocaust—from gutwrenching images to mind-boggling numbers of those slaughtered continue to haunt the imaginations of religious as well as secular Jewish people around the world.

 

Brickner finds the answer in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here is a part of it:

 

…. That moment in history—when Jesus was alone with the sin of the world—was the central act of God’s redemptive power. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). And because of this amazing eternal truth, He is still present in our suffering today, to identify, to suffer with and to provide help, hope and meaning to those who still suffer.

 

So Where was God when the six million died? God was mourning over the dead, the persecuted, and grieved by those persecutors whose minds were scrambled with the lust for power.

God was suffering along with every humiliation and each act of violence. The answer to the question is not snappy, nor is it smug and self-satisfied. It is hard to understand and harder to explain. But it has to do with love that is really love.

 

[End of quote]

 

The Fatima series of apparitions, which has great relevance to all of this, was conditional – the world was given the choice between good or evil. On July 13, 1917, Our Lady of the Rosary said (emphasis added):

 

You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war [World War I] is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI.

When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.

…. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. ….

 

Unfortunately, the majority of the world chose the “if not”. David Brickner gives a realistic explanation of choice and its consequences which we can easily apply to our present subject:

 

God created human beings to receive His love and to be able to give love in return. Love must always be a choice. God made us with the power to choose love, to choose humility and righteousness and peace . . . but in our pride, the human race has chosen to ignore God’s rightful place, and often even His existence. That choice

consistently leads to other bad choices, some more hideous than others. And we become victims of these choices, whether they are our own, or as in the case of the Nazis, other peoples’.

There was a set of historical decisions that permitted the evil of the Third Reich to prosper. Decisions to look the other way, to care too little to see if rumors of the atrocities were true, to look upon the misery of fellow human beings as “someone else’s business”—all these choices had a part in the unspeakable horrors. Like Cain, much of the world collectively shrugged and retorted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God mourns over the depraved choices of human beings, but He never violates a person’s right to decide.

And we ask, Where was God?

He was right there all along. God has been present through all our sufferings. He was in the boxcars, the ghettos, the concentration camps, yes, even in the showers and the ovens. We believe that as God was present with us, so was Jesus. And He still is there today identifying with His suffering people.

 

[End of quote]

 

This excellent comment, focussed as it is upon Jesus Christ, harmonises perfectly with what Pope Francis himself has said about “the hope that is in us” due to Christ’s Resurrection:

 

Dear brothers and sisters, we must first firmly have this hope and we must be visible, clear, brilliant signs of hope in world. The Risen Lord is the hope that never fails, that does not disappoint (cf. Rom 5:5). God’s hope never disappoints!. How many times in our life do our hopes vanish, how many times do the expectations that we carry in our heart not come true! The hope of Christians is strong, safe and sound in this land, where God has called us to walk, and is open to eternity, because it is founded on God, who is always faithful.

We should never forget this; God is always faithful! God is always faithful! Being risen with Christ through Baptism, with the gift of faith, to an imperishable inheritance, leads us to increasingly search for the things of God, to think of Him more, to pray more.

Christianity is not simply a matter of following commandments; it is about living a new life, being in Christ, thinking and acting like Christ, and being transformed by the love of Christ, it is allowing Him take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, to free them from the darkness of evil and sin.

Dear brothers and sisters, to those who ask us our reasons for the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15), let us point to the Risen Christ. Let us point to Him with the proclamation of the Word, but especially with our resurrected life. Let us show the joy of being children of God, the freedom he gives us to live in Christ, who is true freedom, freedom from the slavery of evil, sin and death! In looking to our heavenly home, we will also have a new light and strength in our commitment and in our daily efforts. It is a precious service that we give to our world, which is often no longer able to lift its gaze upwards, it no longer seems able to lift its gaze towards God.

http://www.catholic.org/news/international/europe/story.php?id=50471