How Pope Francis Helped Broker Cuba Deal

President Obama thanked Pope Francis for his role in negotiating a more open policy on Cuba and the release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross from Cuban custody.
A senior administration official said that the appeal from the Pope was “very rare” and unprecedented.
“Pope Francis personally issued an appeal in a letter that he sent to President Obama and to President Raul Castro calling on them to resolve the case of Alan Gross and the cases of the three Cubans who have been imprisoned here in the United States and also encouraging the United States and Cuba to pursue a closer relationship,” said the official. “The Vatican then hosted the US and Cuban delegations where we were able to review the commitments that we are making today.”
American officials have also noted Francis’ deep familiarity with the Americas, being the first pope from the continent. The letter from Pope Francis “gave us greater impetus and momentum for us to move forward,” a white House official said. “Cuba was a topic of discussion that got as much attention as anything else the two of them discuss.”
The move is perhaps Pope Francis’ boldest foreign policy move yet, but it is not his first.
• He showed letter-writing prowess in September 2013, when he wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin, host of the G-20 Summit which Obama was attending, urging world leaders and the United States to oppose a military intervention in Syria.
• After visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem in May, Pope Francis hosted both Israeli president Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican for a joint prayer service for Middle East Peace.
In a 15-minute speech announcing that the U.S. would normalize relations with Cuba, Obama said that the pope helped spur the change and personally thanked him. The Vatican then released a statement noting that the Vatican hosted delegations from both countries in October to negotiate the deal after Pope Francis had written to both leaders.
A senior administration official said that the appeal from the Pope was “very rare” and unprecedented.
“Pope Francis personally issued an appeal in a letter that he sent to President Obama and to President Raul Castro calling on them to resolve the case of Alan Gross and the cases of the three Cubans who have been imprisoned here in the United States and also encouraging the United States and Cuba to pursue a closer relationship,” said the official. “The Vatican then hosted the US and Cuban delegations where we were able to review the commitments that we are making today.”
American officials have also noted Francis’ deep familiarity with the Americas, being the first pope from the continent. The letter from Pope Francis “gave us greater impetus and momentum for us to move forward,” a white House official said. “Cuba was a topic of discussion that got as much attention as anything else the two of them discuss.”
The move is perhaps Pope Francis’ boldest foreign policy move yet, but it is not his first.
• He showed letter-writing prowess in September 2013, when he wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin, host of the G-20 Summit which Obama was attending, urging world leaders and the United States to oppose a military intervention in Syria.
• After visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem in May, Pope Francis hosted both Israeli president Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican for a joint prayer service for Middle East Peace.
• When he visited South Korea in August, he sent a telegram to Chinese President Xi Jinping when the papal plane crossed into Chinese airspace—a historic step toward improved relations since the last time a pope visited East Asia, Chinese officials did not allow the plane to fly over Chinese territory.
When it comes to Cuba, Pope Francis is continuing the work of his predecessors. Just over half the Cuban population is Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center, and the Vatican stepped up its relations with the country over the past two decades. In 1998, Pope John Paul II became the first pope to visit Cuba. Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba in 2012. At an outdoor mass, he urged Cuba to “build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity and which better reflects the goodness of God.”
The announcement of the Vatican’s role in the U.S.-Cuba negotiations is particularly noteworthy as Pope Francis plans his first trip to the United States in September 2015. The Vatican has not said whether or not Pope Francis will travel to Cuba or other US cities on that trip.
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Many scholars have portrayed Queen Esther as a prefigurement of Mary

…. Pope Francis joins his predecessors in acknowledging the importance of Fatima. When the Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children almost 100 years ago, it was shortly after an urgent prayer to the Blessed Virgin as the Queen of Peace by Pope Benedict XV for the end of World War I.

Blessed John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life after an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981. In a 2010 visit to Fatima, Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the (then) seven years until the 100th anniversary of the apparitions would “hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.”

There is also precedent in the Old Testament for what Pope Francis and previous pontiffs ask of us in calling for repentance and for intercession: the Book of Esther. Indeed, many scholars over the years have portrayed Queen Esther as a prefigurement of Mary, and the Book of Esther as a prefigurement of the Book of Revelation.

You will recall that the king of Persia was asked by a scheming administrator to destroy the Jewish people since the administrator had been personally offended by Mordecai, Esther’s uncle who was also a servant of the king. The king, unaware that his young and exceptionally beautiful wife Esther was Jewish, consented to the attack. Before she dared to approach the king to ask that her people be spared, Queen Esther clothed herself in sackcloth and ashes, and asked her people to join her in fasting from food and water for three days.

When Esther entered into the king’s presence, something she was forbidden to do without invitation, he extended his scepter, thus sparing her life. Esther also rather audaciously invited the King and Haman to a banquet, where she revealed that she was a Jew and begged the King to spare the life of her people.

The King was angered by his administrator’s schemes against Mordecai and the Jewish people, and dealt with the administrator accordingly. But since royal orders could not be annulled, the attack was allowed to continue, though the Jewish people were allowed to defend themselves and defeated their enemies in battle. The Jews celebrate this triumph each year as their Feast of Purim.

The date set for destruction of the Jews had been the 13th of the month of Adar, a month that corresponds more or less to February, which is when Purim is now remembered. This date is also significant in Jewish history for another reason: It is the day that the Maccabees liberated Israel after a four-year battle with the Seleucid Empire.

The significance of this for faithful and pro-life Catholics who seek greater understanding in what Scott Hahn calls Catholics’ “away game” of the Old Testament, is this: Just as the Jewish people were saved through the intercession of Queen Esther, so Mary intercedes for the Church throughout history, and now.

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A Catholic Revival in Northern Europe

By Filip Mazurczak Saturday, November 29 2014

Northern Europe has become one of the world’s least religious regions. British Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, has legalized same-sex “marriage” and said that he opposes abortion. . .after twenty weeks of pregnancy. A decade ago, Scandinavian Christian Democrats, whose national flags contain crosses, opposed including references to Christianity’s role in European culture in the European Constitution’s preamble. In today’s Britain and Scandinavia, laissez-faire morality is the reigning political dogma and religious apathy is the dominant worldview.

At the same time, the state churches of the region have retained some social importance. In Britain, the queen remains head of the Church of England, while Anglican bishops are peers in the House of Lords. Meanwhile, polls consistently show that levels of trust in the Lutheran Church are high in Scandinavia. Most Scandinavians are baptized, married (if they marry – over  half of births are to non-married couples), and buried by state churches. In Sweden, most families light Advent candles and St. Lucy’s Day processions remain popular.

André Malraux predicted that the 21st century would be religious, or it would not be at all. Sociologists note that, even in secularized societies, people thirst for things spiritual. Despite the aforementioned social and cultural visibility of Protestantism in Northern Europe, however, the Lutheran and Anglican Churches there are dying. British sociologists predict that practicing Anglicans will soon meet the fate of the Dodo and woolly mammoth, falling from 800,000 to just 50,000 by mid-century (Episcopalians face similar disastrous prospects in North America). In Sweden, 4 percent of Lutherans attend services regularly, while the corresponding figures in Norway and Finland are below 2 percent.

By contrast, the Catholic Church is experiencing a mini-renaissance in Northern Europe. There are currently more practicing Catholics than Anglicans in Britain. In Scandinavia, there are about 600,000 Catholics, roughly 3 percent of the region’s population (a proportion similar to that of Catholics in Asia). Certainly, part of this has to do with immigration. Since the European Union expanded to include less prosperous former East Bloc states in 2004, Scandinavia and the British Isles have been deluged by immigrants from the Catholic nations of Poland (2.2 million Poles have left their country in the past decade), Slovakia, Croatia, and Lithuania.

While Mass is celebrated in Polish or Serbo-Croatian across Northern Europe, the region’s indigenous population is also being drawn to the Catholic Church. In the past decade, the number of British seminarians has grown fourfold. This cannot be explained by immigration (young Polish immigrants who enter seminary usually go home) or by short bursts of enthusiasm, such as that after Pope Benedict XVI’s visit in 2010, as this upward tendency has been ongoing for ten years.

Currently, Scandinavia is one of the most vocations-rich regions in the Northern Hemisphere. The Church has 103,000 members in Sweden and 17 seminarians. By contrast, the Archdiocese of Vienna has thirteen times as many faithful but fewer than twice as many men studying to be priests.

 A St. Lucy's Day celebration in Sweden

In Scandinavia, the Neocatechumenal Way – a mission-focused community founded by Spanish painter Kiko Argüello – is playing a key role in evangelization. Denmark, a country with just 40,000 Catholics, has 18 Neocatechumenal seminarians, while Finland, with just 10,500 Catholics, has 15. Meanwhile, a growing number of Scandinavians are becoming nuns; their number has inched up to 680. Cloistered orders are particularly successful in attracting new members. There is one nun for 880 Catholics in the region; in the United States, the corresponding number is one per 1,400. However, the number of American nuns is rapidly declining, while female religious are growing in Scandinavia.

Northern Europe is proving to be fertile ground for converts. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI created the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, allowing Anglican priests to cross the Tiber. Since then, many Anglican clerics, frustrated with Canterbury’s eschewing of tradition, have done so. Scandinavian converts are hoping that the Vatican will create a similar ordinariate for Lutherans. Meanwhile, one of Scandinavia’s best-known Christian leaders – charismatic pastor Ulf Ekman – recently converted to Catholicism along with his wife. He said that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the best book he has ever read.

Northern Europe is clearly one of the world’s most Godless regions. Yet, at the same time, the Catholic Church, while a minority denomination, is experiencing a revival that only Counterreformation popes could have dreamed of. There is an important lesson to be drawn from this.

As Christ said, His followers are to be the salt of the earth. The Lutheran and Anglican Churches have long lost their taste. Other than some fading rituals, they have become largely indistinguishable from the broader secular culture. The fact that the Lutheran bishop of Stockholm is a practicing lesbian perhaps best epitomizes what has happen to Northern European Protestantism. Catholicism has always been countercultural, and while political climates and intellectual currents have changed, it has retained its belief in one moral truth. Despite the pressures by some Catholics, the Church has remained steadfast in its proclamation of truth even while that truth has been unpopular.

Many have jokingly said that the Church of England is the Tory Party at prayer. Today, the Church of England and Lutheran churches are secularism at prayer. From teachings on life and marriage to women’s ordination, Northern European Protestant churches have made it seem that morality is something changeable. This makes such churches seem less credible. Yet spiritually hungry hearts like Ulf Ekman and the ex-Anglicans Catholic priests want something more. They want a Church more interested being coherent in its teaching than in receiving praise in the New York Times.

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Communion of Reparation and the Super Cyclone

…. During the super cyclone that hit the Eastern seaboard of the Philippines, almost all the parishes the diocese of Tacloban sustained heavy damage. All except one: the parish where a First Friday Eucharistic Adoration was going on at the time of the storm. This parish had been practicing the Communion of Reparation, a devotion which begins with an evening first Friday Mass, through nine hours of Adoration and rosaries, and closes with a midnight first Saturday Mass… as inspired by Our Lady of Fatima’s requests.

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“The Fatima lifestyle is a shield of the Church for these perilous times”.

Anabelle Hazard May 15, AD2014

Did you hear the true story of the Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors? Fr. Hubert Schiffer, SJ and at least four other Jesuits were living in quarters eight blocks away from the epicenter of the bomb. They miraculously survived the bomb blast and Fr. Schiffer lived for at least fifty more years without a trace of radioactive side effects. Fr. Schiffer attributes the miracle in his own words as related by Fr. Paul Ruge O.F.M.I, “We believe that we survived because we lived the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the rosary daily in that home.”

The Message of Fatima

‘Fatima’ refers to the Church approved apparitions of Mary in 1917 to three shepherd children in Portugal for a period of six months. The children were given messages concerning world events and the miracle of the sun capped the end of the public apparitions. Through St. Jacinta, St. Francisco and Bl. Lucia (the seers), the Church was introduced to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, entreated to pray the rosary daily, and encouraged devotion known as the Communion of Reparation where the faithful assist First Saturday Masses in reparation to the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary also begged the world to stop offending the Lord and to make sacrifices so that sinners would be saved. She promised that if her requests are heeded, “a period of peace will be given the world… and in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

The alarming Fatima prophecies centered around world wars, the Pope\’s assassination and the danger of Russia’s communistic influence. Today, it is tempting to dismiss that the A-bomb of Nagasaki, the crumbling of the Berlin wall and St. Pope John Paul II’s consecration of the world closed the case for Fatima’s relevance. However, St. Pope John Paul II’s successors didn’t think so. Pope Benedict XVI on May 13, 2010 in a Mass at the Fatima shrine said:

“We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete.”

After him, Pope Francis, not even a year into his papacy requested Our Lady of Fatima’s statue to be brought to St. Peter’s square. On October 13th, 2013 (the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and anniversary of the last apparition), Pope Francis consecrated the world to Mary.

The threat of China and North Korea’s communism over Asia, Russia’s re-appearance in world events, middle east instability, killing of the innocent unborn, and universal Church persecution should alert us that this period of peace is not among us yet. What we see, in fact, looks more like the cusps of a brewing storm of global mayhem. Current events make for a compelling case of why we still need to listen to and live out Mary’s message in Fatima. We put our own future at risk if we turn our backs on Fatima.

Living Out the Fatima Message

The Fatima lifestyle ushers in the reign or triumph of Mary\’s Immaculate Heart, a precursor to the coming of Jesus’ kingdom on earth. St. Louis de Montfort once prophesied: “His [Jesus] kingdom will come.   But this will happen only after the Blessed Virgin is known and has begun to reign…She gave him birth the first time. She will bring Him forth to us when He comes to us again.”

How do we live out the messages of Fatima?

  1. Pray the rosary daily

  2. Follow Pope Francis’ example and consecrate ourselves to Mary

  3. Practice the Communion of reparation for First Saturdays

  4. Make penance and sacrifices for sinners

The Fatima lifestyle is a shield of the Church for these perilous times. During the super cyclone that hit the Eastern seaboard of the Philippines, almost all the parishes the diocese of Tacloban sustained heavy damage. All except one: the parish where a First Friday Eucharistic Adoration was going on at the time of the storm. This parish had been practicing the Communion of Reparation, a devotion which begins with an evening first Friday Mass, through nine hours of Adoration and rosaries, and closes with a midnight first Saturday Mass… as inspired by Our Lady of Fatima’s requests.

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Saint Joseph the “perfect icon of God the Father”

 images

The Vertex of Love

October 8, 2012  By Jonathan Fleischmann

 

When Mary was predestined in one and the same decree with Jesus Christ by the design of God—before the creation of angels or the universe, and before the existence of sin or evil—she was predestined to be the Spouse of the Holy Spirit … to hold within herself all the love of creation

Love’s Mechanics

In the return of all created things to God the Father (cf. Jn 1, 1; 16, 28), “the equal and contrary reaction,” says St. Maximilian Kolbe, “proceeds inversely from that of creation.”  In creation, the saint goes on to say, the action of God “proceeds from the Father through the Son and the Spirit, while in the return, by means of the Spirit, the Son becomes incarnate in (the Virgin Mary’s) womb and through Him, love returns to the Father.” 1 The Saint of Auschwitz goes on:

In the union of the Holy Spirit with her, not only does love bind these two beings, but the first of them (the Holy Spirit) is all the love of the Most Holy Trinity, while the second (the Blessed Virgin Mary) is all the love of creation, and thus in that union heaven is joined to earth, the whole heaven with the whole earth, the whole of Uncreated Love with the whole of created love: this is the vertex of love. 2

Love’s Equilibrium

The form of the diagram shown in Figure 1 is not found in the work of St. Maximilian.  However, it accurately represents the state of equal and opposite action and reaction, that occurs when two bodies make contact.  In this case, the “bodies” represent heaven and earth:  the uncreated and created orders, God and his creation.  The first point I would like to make is that the state of equal and opposite contact forces in Newtonian mechanics requires “force equilibrium.”  It may then seem very wrong to use an image like this one, because how can the state shown between God and his creation be in equilibrium?  Isn’t God’s act of love so much greater than the return of his creation that no “equilibrium” would be possible?  This would certainly be the case if it were not for Emmanuel, that is, God with us.  Jesus, who is truly man, and truly God, belongs to both the created and uncreated orders simultaneously.  In his person, Jesus is both the son of Mary, fully human and like us in all ways except sin, and the Eternal Son of God the Father, infinite and equal in all ways to the Triune God.

      

 Figure 1:  The return of all created things to God the Father.

Thus, the love of Jesus, the Word Made Flesh who is God, is by itself enough to “balance” the love of God.  However, there is even more in the equation of love’s equilibrium than the love of the Son, infinite and sufficient in itself, though it is.  According to St. Maximilian, the perfect love of the Trinity meets an adequate response in the perfect love of the Immaculate, which is the name St. Maximilian gives to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  How is it possible that Divine Love can find an adequate response in the love of a creature?  It is possible precisely because of the name that the Virgin Mary can claim for herself.  In 1854, the Blessed Virgin Mary proclaimed to St. Bernadette Soubirous: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  In the words of St. Maximilian, the Blessed Virgin is the created Immaculate Conception, as in the words of St. Bonaventure, the Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception. 3  The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, and the Son ,as the perfect and infinite love between the Father and the Son in the eternal interior life of the Blessed Trinity.  Thus, the Holy Spirit is truly all the love of the Most Holy Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is also called the “Complement” of the Blessed Trinity, because he is the completion of the Trinity, not in “number” (quantitatively), but in essence (qualitatively).

When Mary was predestined in one and the same decree with Jesus Christ, 4 by the design of God—before the creation of angels or the universe, and before the existence of sin or evil—she was predestined to be the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. So she was predestined to hold within herself all the love of creation.  Thus, St. Maximilian says that the Blessed Virgin Mary “inserted into the love of the Most Holy Trinity becomes, from the very first moment of her existence, always, forever, the Complement of the Most Holy Trinity.”  We may paraphrase the thoughts of St. Maximilian Kolbe on the spousal relationship between the Holy Spirit, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the words of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner:

In virtue of this spousal union formally denoted by the title, Complement, Mary is able to enter, as no other, into the order of the hypostatic union, her soul being wholly divinized, because by the grace of the Immaculate Conception, it has been ‘transubstantiated’ into the Holy Spirit. 5

It is for this reason that Mary—though she is a creature in both her person and her nature—is herself the created Immaculate Conception, and, therefore, all the love of creation. She can actually provide an adequate response to the love of the Holy Spirit, who is the uncreated Immaculate Conception, and, therefore, all the Love of God.  Thus, the equation of love’s equilibrium is balanced again.

Now that we have balanced the equation of love’s equilibrium twice over, we could certainly stop.  However, there is reason to continue.  St. Maximilian does not expressly mention St. Joseph in the context of these reflections.  However, the diagram in Figure 1, based entirely on the saint’s own reflections, certainly suggests the presence of St. Joseph in the order of the response of creation to God the Father.  The order of Father, Son, and, Holy Spirit, shown in the diagram, reflects the order of God’s loving act of creation. This was initiated by the zeal of the Father, designed by the wisdom of the Son, and effected by the action of the Holy Spirit.  This is the order referred to by St. Maximilian when he says that: “the equal and contrary reaction (i.e., the return of all creation to God) proceeds inversely from that of creation.”  We see this reflection in the diagram, where the reaction “force” of love is inverted, and the order of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as the “action force,” is reversed to give the order of Holy Spirit, Son, and Father.

Notice, however, that in the return to God, it is creation that is reacting.  Thus, the individuals reacting—while reflecting the Holy Spirit, Son, and Father to greater or lesser degrees—are all creatures.  We have Mary, who is the perfect similitude (St. Bonaventure), transparent icon (St. Maximilian), or even quasi-incarnation (St. Maximilian) of the Holy Spirit, but who is still a created person, with a created human nature.  We have Jesus, who is the Word Incarnate, the same Person as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, but who is still in possession of a created human nature.  St. Maximilian stops here, but must we stop here?  I would dare to say that the analogy we have carried out so far on the inspiration of St. Maximilian suggests an obvious completion.  We have St. Joseph, who has been called the “perfect icon of God the Father” by more than one saint. 6  In the words of Fr. Joachin Ferrer Arellano:

In the light of the Scotistic thesis on the Primacy of Christ, to take one example, one discovers (…) how the virginal marriage of Mary and Joseph was predestined “ante mundi constitutionem” (before the constitution of the world), as an essential part of the one decree of the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of the Immaculate “ante praevisa merita” (before any consideration of antecedent merit).  Such is the saving plan, “the mystery hidden before the ages in God,” (cf. Eph 3:9) to be accomplished at the high point in the history of salvation.  That high point is the fullness of time (cf. Gal 4:4) when God sent his Son into the most pure bosom of Holy Mary Ever Virgin, espoused to a man of the house of David (cf. Lk 1:26) in fulfillment of the prophecy of Nathan.  God acted thus, that through the obedience of the Spouses of Nazareth the Son might be freely welcomed into history on behalf of all mankind in order to save it.  This welcome took place in the virginal womb of Mary, the Daughter of Zion, and in the house of Joseph, in the family home established by the marriage of the two Spouses (Mary and Joseph), “sanctuary of love and cradle of life.”  This is the theological foundation of the holy Patriarch’s greatness as virginal, messianic father of the Only-begotten of the Father: shadow and transparent icon of Him who wished to make Joseph unique partaker of his fatherhood in order to prepare the human nature of Christ for the holocaust of Calvary.  In this way, He made Joseph Father and Lord of the Church gushing forth from Christ’s opened side and born of the sword of sorrow of the Woman. 7

In addition to being the transparent icon of God the Father, St. Joseph was the true, virginal husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 8  In fact, it can even be said that St. Joseph is the virginal father of Jesus Christ.  For, again in the words of Fr. Joachin Ferrer Arellano:

Although singular, unique, and not univocal with fatherhood as this is ordinarily understood and commonly found among men, the position more common and traditional among theologians upholds the truly real fatherhood of Joseph in relation to Jesus, based 1) on his marriage to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and 2) on the right of the husband over his wife.  He, therefore, who is born virginally of Mary, by reason of his birth, intimately pertains in some manner to Joseph as father. … In view of the dignity of Joseph as husband of Mary, to whom belongs the fruit of his wife’s womb, one is not permitted to overlook … how the indivisible virginity of both spouses—not simply that of Mary, but also that of her husband, the son of David—is ordered to the virginal fatherhood of Joseph according to the Spirit, in virtue of the obedience of faith to the saving plan of God.  This plan includes the messianic fatherhood of Joseph as son of David in relation to his virginal Son, constituted Son of David, the messianic King, because He was Son of Joseph. 9

In the return of all created things to God the Father, it is under the leadership, and in imitation of, St. Joseph, our patriarch, that the individual members of the Church must, by the merits gained for us through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, be transubstantiated into Mary, who is the Virgo Ecclesia Facta (Virgin-Made-Church). 10 It is only by being transubstantiated into Mary, the created Immaculate Conception, that we can be united to God as she is uniquely united to God, being transubstantiated with her into the uncreated Immaculate Conception, who is the Holy Spirit.  In virtue of this transubstantiation, we are possessed by the Immaculate, and we are thereby formed into a single community, or Church, sharing her personality.  To St. Maximilian, this is the only way that we can be members of Christ’s Church, and thereby united to God.  In the words of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner:

To this dynamic union of love in which not only the being of the Holy Spirit and that of Mary are united, but the entire love of heaven and that of earth touch, merge and become one so as to culminate in the Incarnation, in the birth of the Son of God, the Man-God, and then in the incorporation of the members of the Church into that Body conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Saint of Niepokalanow and Auschwitz (St. Maximilian Kolbe) ascribes the fecundity of the Holy Spirit, precisely because Complement of Father and Son. … Whence the importance of Mary’s possession of those who wish to be incorporated into Christ, conformed to him in life and in death: except through her it cannot be achieved (emphasis added).  This mysterious mutual possession, then, is the basis of all other cooperation in the work of salvation, the reason for rejecting the Protestant solus, and “passive” ecclesio-typology, and affirming the universal Marian mediation of grace or active ecclesio-typology. 11

Thus, in accordance with St. Maximilian’s principle of action and reaction, what was first reversed in the order of God’s creative act, in the fullness of time, in the objective order of salvation, is reversed again in the subjective order of salvation. What was first reversed in the objective order of salvation means that, through the action of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ was incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and became man, and through him, love returned to the Father.  What was reversed again in the subjective order of salvation means that, in imitation of our patriarch and leader, St. Joseph, through the merits gained for us by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, we can be transubstantiated into the Immaculate, and thereby form one Church, sharing her personality. Consequently, we share in her unique union with God in eternity, which is the Beatific Vision.  This can be illustrated in the diagram shown in Figure 1, if one imagines traveling from the top of the diagram to the bottom, and then returning from the bottom of the diagram to the top again.

Love’s VertexOur final meditation on the diagram shown in Figure 1 is the point of contact between heaven and earth, the vertex of love, where all the love of God, and all the love of creation, meet and are joined: “in that union heaven is joined to earth, the whole heaven with the whole earth, the whole of Uncreated Love with the whole of created love.” 12  This point of contact, between the whole heaven and the whole earth, is, according to St. Maximilian, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Why is this?  Why is the vertex of love not the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is love?  Indeed, the Saint of Auschwitz has been sharply criticized, and even ridiculed by some theologians, for what they have called “a heresy” along the lines of that of Joachim of Fiore. 13  It is claimed that, by making the vertex of love the Immaculate Conception, the centrality of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is denied.  However, precisely the opposite is true.  For, in the words of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner:

Today, this joachimite tendency generally reveals itself in constant anxiety about Catholic proneness to “exaggerate” Mary, and a downplaying (emphasis added) of the active role of Mary in the work of salvation as Mother of God, and co-redemptress so as to exalt the “mediation” of the Holy Spirit as principal “co-redemptor” (and for some “mother”) of whom Mary is but the instrument (as are we), or so as to speak of the suffering of the Father. … But such historical trends have always been the prelude of Unitarianism: not an affirmation of the Trinity, but its denial, a denial which must ultimately lead to some form of pantheism. … The significance of St. Maximilian’s reflections on the Holy Spirit, and Mary, and of his preferred terminology cannot be underestimated. 14

It is the relationship of Mary to her Divine Son, which is the relationship of Mother of God, or Theotokos, which is the source of all her dignity, unparalleled among creatures.   This dignity so far transcends the dignity of every other created being as to make her a “quasi-part” of the Blessed Trinity.  It is in this very dignity, however, that the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is central, which is why St. Maximilian Kolbe’s reflections on the Blessed Virgin Mary are directly opposed to the joachimite heresy.  Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner paraphrases St. Maximilian Kolbe on this subject as follows:

Thus, Mary’s self-definition is: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  Only Mary can say this, because only of Mary Immaculate, jointly predestined with Christ for an absolute primacy in creation, can it be said that the whole world and each of us was made “for her”. 15 Therefore, of no other just person can it be said as it was said to Mary “The Lord is with thee.” 16  For no other than the Immaculate can be Mother of God (emphasis added).  Indeed, she remains only a creature; nonetheless in virtue of the Immaculate Conception she far transcends the supernatural perfection of even the greatest saints and of all the saints together, for as “quasi-part” of the Trinity, she not only participates in the divine perfections, she is “inserted into the very bosom of the Trinity and into the order of the Incarnation.” 17 … 18  To be part of the Trinity, then, in so singular a way revolves about the divine Maternity, and by extension the spiritual maternity as well.  For in loving the Immaculate the divine Persons love us. 19

In the famous Roman conference of 1937, St. Maximilian defined sanctity with an equation: “S: v = V”.  The letter “S” stands for sanctity, the lowercase letter “v” stands for the will of a creature, and the uppercase letter “V” stands for the will of God.  It is Mary Immaculate who is the perfect image, or icon, of sanctity, because it is only she who satisfies Kolbe’s equation.  “We may add with the Saint: perfect sanctity is perfect charity or Immaculate Conception.” 20  This is the meaning of the vertex of love, and why that vertex is the Immaculate Conception, rather than the Incarnation.  Mary is a created person, and yet her will is perfectly united to the will of God: “v = V.”  In the words of St. Maximilian:

The Immaculate, the full of grace, was always united to the will of God.  From all eternity, she was in the thought of God who had willed her so holy and perfect, to correspond with his will in a manner so complete.  Hence, we can say that to do the will of God, means to do the will of the Immaculate, and to do the will of the Immaculate means to do the will of God, because she is always united to God: the Lord is with thee; because she is always docile to the call of God: be it done to me; because she is always solicitous for the glory of God, always adoring, praising and thanking: my soul magnifies the Lord. 21

We know well from St. Thomas Aquinas that love is in the will. 22  Thus, in the equation, “v = V,” we see that all the love of creation (in the will of the Immaculate Virgin Mary) is united to all the love of the Most Holy Trinity (in the will of the Holy Spirit), and, in the words of St. Maximilian, “in that union heaven is joined to earth, the whole heaven with the whole earth, the whole of Uncreated Love with the whole of created love: this is the vertex of love.” 23

Oh sweet heart of Mary, be our salvation.
Ave Maria!

  1. SK 1318.  All citations from the writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe in this paper, with the exception of the Roman Conferences, are abbreviated SK and taken from Scritti di Massimiliano Kolbe (Roma 1997).

  2. Ibid.

  3. Regarding the Mysteries of the interior life of the Blessed Trinity, St. Bonaventure said that the Son can be properly said to be “a conceived”, but only the Holy Spirit can be properly said to be “conception” (in I Sent.).  St. Maximilian added the word “Immaculate” (perfect, holy) to the name given the Holy Spirit by St. Bonaventure, an addition St. Bonaventure would surely have approved.

  4. The following is an excerpt taken from the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX Ineffabilis Deus, issued on December 8, 1854, in which the Holy Father solemnly declared the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception:  “From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world.  Above all creatures did God so love her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight.  Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully. …  And hence the very words with which the Sacred Scriptures speak of Uncreated Wisdom and set forth his eternal origin, the Church, both in its ecclesiastical offices and in its liturgy, has been wont to apply likewise to the origin of the Blessed Virgin, inasmuch as God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom.”  Here Blessed Pope Pius IX makes use both of the Scotistic thesis on the Absolute Joint Primacy of Jesus and Mary, both of whose existence were ordained before God’s act of creation and before any consideration of original sin (cf. R. Rosini, O.F.M., Mariology of Blessed John Duns Scotus, translated by P. Fehlner, F.I., New Bedford 2008), and the formulation of St. Anselm, who said that Mary “shines with a purity greater than which none can be imagined” (De Conceptione Virginis).

  5. P. Fehlner, F.I., St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity – Pneumatologist (New Bedford, 2004).

  6. St. Theresa of Avila and St. Bernadette Soubirous are among these (cf. A. Dozè, “Le mystère de Saint Joseph révéle a deux femmes: Therèse (d’Avila) et Bernadette”, in Actas simposio de Kevelaer 2005), as well as St. Peter Julian Eymard (Month of St. Joseph).

  7. J. Ferrer Arellano, “The Virginal Marriage of Mary and Joseph according to Bl. John Duns Scotus”, in Bl. John Duns Scotus and His Mariology, Commemoration of the Seventh Centenary of His Death, Acts of the Symposium on Scotus’ Mariology, Grey College, Durham – England (New Bedford, 2009).

  8. Blessed John Duns Scotus and St. Maximilian Kolbe are both clear on this point, as are many other saints, including Blessed Pope John Paul II (cf. Redemptoris Custos).  The fact that Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and the fact that their perfect spousal love results in Mary’s transubstantiation into the Holy Spirit, does not imply that the Holy Spirit is the “husband” of Mary, or that the Holy Spirit is the “father” of Jesus.  To approach an understanding of the perfect spousal union of love between the Holy Spirit and Mary, it must be understood that highest experience of spousal love, which is between husband and wife within the holy sacrament of marriage, is but an imperfect reflection of the source of spousal love, which is the Love between the Father and the Son in the Blessed Trinity, both of Whom in the inner life of the Trinity are, of course, without “gender” in the human sense of the term.  This Perfect Spousal Love is the Holy Spirit, and it is as a fruit of this Spousal Love that the Blessed Virgin Mary is one with the Holy Spirit; transubstantiated into the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit quasi-incarnate.  (P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…)

  9. J. Ferrer Arellano, “The Virginal Marriage of Mary and Joseph…”

  10. The title “Virgo Ecclesia Facta,” or Virgin-Made-Church” is applied to the Blessed Virgin by St. Francis of Assisi in his Antiphon for the Office of the Passion (cf. J. Schneider, O.F.M., Virgo Ecclesia Facta: The Presence of Mary in the Crucifix of San Damiano and in the Office of the Passion of St. Francis of Assisi, New Bedford 2004).  The phrase “transubstantiation into the Immaculate,” though surprising, is used twice by St. Maximilian Kolbe to describe the total consecration to the Immaculate he demanded of his priests (cf. A. Geiger, F.I., “Marian Mediation as Presence and Transubstantiation into the Immaculate”, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – III:  Mater Unitatis, Acts of the Third International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, New Bedford 2003).

  11. P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…

  12. SK 1318

  13. Joachim of Fiore was a theologian (c. 1135 – 1202) who de-emphasized the central role of the Incarnation in the Salvific Order.  His theories were declared heretical at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and at the Synod of Arles (1263).

  14. P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…

  15. SK 1305.

  16. SK 1295

  17. SK 1320; 1305; 1295; 1288.

  18.  Father Fehlner continues:  “While this personal communion or inexistence of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate is absolutely unique in its perfection (a hierarchy or sacred order of its own kind), it is nonetheless the ontological basis making possible the sanctification of the Church as Bride of Christ, as sharing in the redemptive sacramentality of the Incarnation.  This mediation of Mary qua created Immaculate Conception is the source of that mystical personality of the Church qua Bride, a personality of virgin and mother underlying and permeating every other dimension of the Church, including the petrine, hierarchical, sacramental-liturgical.”  (P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…)  See also J. Ferrer Arellano, “The Triple and Inseparable Mediation of the Immaculate, the Eucharist and the Petrine Ministry in the Building Up of the Church Until the Parousia (The Three Whites)”, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross VI: Marian Coredemption in the Eucharistic Mystery, Acts of the Sixth International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, 2007).

  19. P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…

  20. Ibid.

  21. St. Maximilian Kolbe, in Roman Conferences of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, translated with introduction and notes byFr. Peter Damian Ma. Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, 2004).

  22. Despite the objections of Dietrich von Hildebrand (cf. Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Nature of Love).

  23. SK 1318.

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