What Wondrous Love Is This?

Only God creates. The rest of us just copy.


Something for the weekend.  What Wondrous Love Is This?  As we begin the Lenten system this video that melds together the hymn and Michelangelo’s Pieta strikes me as a good starting point.  I have always loved this sculpture.  Michelangelo I think wanted his Pieta to reflect the great victory gained by the Cross and not the torture that gaining the victory cost Christ.  The body of Jesus is shown as only slightly marred by the Crucifixion, and the Virgin is shown as youthful and beautiful, no doubt as she was at the birth of Christ.  The sculpture is doubtless false to history but true to the spiritual essence of what had just been accomplished:  victory over sin, over death and over the Fall.  May the joy that suffuses the Pieta be with all of us during Lent.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Thank you for this marvelous post. While at St. Peter’s, I saw the Pieta off to the right upon entering the basilica. It was smaller than I’d imagined and was unfortunately in a glass case. Michaelangelo was one of those geniuses during the Renaissance who struggled to create classicaly, but I think Spengler was right in saying they were unable to break free of the “Faustian” spirit. They dreamed a classical dream and it was quickly over. A couple of writers I read mentioned that they tried to find themselves and were profoundly troubled. They couldn’t achieve what they grasped for, and perhaps they simply remained culture bound.

  2. Michelangelo was asked why his Pieta was so young and Michelangelo replied: “Because Virgins do not age.” This would be in accord with Einstein’s theory of Relativity. The Virgin of virgins was perfectly in accord with the will of God, the Father in heaven.

    I was able to see The Pieta at the World’s Fair in Flushing, New York in 1962. The Times Magazine also held an exhibit of all the Vatican art at their place in New York City. Breathtaking. Nevermore, Nevermore.

  3. Thank you for the gifts Donald.

    Jesus’ face looks so real. Our Great Gift, Jesus.
    Unknown author….”Our life is a gift from God. What we do with our life is our gift to Him.”

    Saint Maximilian Kolbe; “Love alone creates.”

  4. Mary, you’re assuming Mary remained a virgin and that she was sinless. That she remained a virgin is possible though doubtful. That she was sinless is impossible.

  5. Jon: God can do all things, any thing God wishes to do, except to be and not to be at the same time. This is called the law of non-contradiction. from Aristotle to Aquinas. The Virgin Mary’s love for God was so perfect, a privilege called the “Immaculate Conception”, that Jesus took the Blessed Virgin Mary’s human nature from her. Jesus is true God and true man. Jesus is a virgin, an innocent virgin, or Jesus could not have died for mankind and redeemed us, Jesus would have had to die for his own sins of ommission and commission, and you and I would be lost to the Father in heaven forever. Jesus’ mission was to bring every person and his soul, body and soul, to His Father in Heaven, Who created each and every one of us in perfect innocence and virginity. The only difference between you and me and Our Lady is her Immaculate Conception, Mary’s perfect love and obedience in humility to God, through her “fiat” “be it done unto me according to your will”. God willed that His Son, Jesus Christ, had a virgin Mother. As Jesus hung dying on the cross, Jesus gave all souls, for whom He laid down His life, into his mother’s Immaculate Heart and there all persons stay unless we choose to go to hell with Jesus. Freedom. Perfect Freedom.
    All souls are created in original innocence and virginity, at the point of conception. God does not create sin or evil or imperfection. Mary was preserved from concupiscence and original sin and Mary chose to remain in sanctifying grace forever and forever. This is called perpetual virginity. The rest of us, as Mary’s children, have the sacraments of the Catholic Church to regain sanctifying grace and our almost perpetual virginity. and if I hurry, I will be able to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation and regain my almost perpetual virginity. Do, pray for me. It is not easy to be Mary De Voe.

  6. It is not that the N.T. derives its authority from the church, much less the Roman Catholic church which arose. What happened is that the writings were written by authors inspired by the Holy Ghost. The church played a role in verifying that.

    As for the supposed sinlessness of Mary, her status in that regard was no different from any other saint. If we are saved by faith through grace, we are accepted, and the verdict declared is not guilty. This is a far cry from saying she never sinned throughout her life.

  7. From a meditation on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of The Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Crucifixion: Think of the love which filled Our Lord Jesus’ Sacred Heart during His three hours’ (unjust) agony on His Holy Cross.

    “We adore you, Christ, and we bless you. Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the World.” Jesus, the only begotten Son of God the Father Almighty, by His life, death, and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life.

    And, “O my Jesus, forgive us or sins; save us from the fire of Hell; take all souls to Heaven; and help especially those most in need of Thy Mercy.”

  8. “It is not that the N.T. derives its authority from the church, much less the Roman Catholic church which arose.”

    Completely incorrect Jon. Christ gave authority to bind and to loose to Peter and the Church. The authors of the various books that compose the New Testament were inspired by the Holy Spirit indeed, but it was the Church that made the decision about what books composed the canon of the New Testament. Indeed, the authors of the books are considered to be inspired solely because the Church says that they were inspired.

    “As for the supposed sinlessness of Mary, her status in that regard was no different from any other saint.”
    Incorrect. Mary was kept free of all sin including the taint of original sin. No other saint has ever had that privilege,

  9. I’m not sure why that would be applied to the hierarchical apparatus of the Roman church. That’s more than an exegetical stretch. I trust the Holy Spirit who superintended the process of canonization. I don’t read much more into it. What are your Scripture verses in support of the idea that Mary was untainted by original or actual sin?

  10. “I trust the Holy Spirit who superintended the process of canonization. I don’t read much more into it.”

    Of course you don’t because when a close look is taken at the mechanism by which the canon was made Sola Scriptura goes flying out the window.
    The New Testament books are neither self created nor self authenticated. They had to be written and they had to be determined to be worthy of being a part of the New Testament. Assembling the canon was a lengthy process and was done under the authority of the Church. Why if the Holy Spirit was going to take care of everything did Christ establish a heirarchical Church?

    “What are your Scripture verses in support of the idea that Mary was untainted by original or actual sin?”

    Asked and answered.

  11. You seem to assume that a hierarchy once evolved is perpetual and perpetually right. You seem to emphasize the machinery of the church over the role of the Holy Spirit who comes and goes as he pleases and works when, where, and how he decides. Your view of the church seems to be very static.

    Idon’t think Christ established a hierarchical church. First of all, we don’t see that at all in the gospels. In Acts we see the assemblying of Christians and we see how Paul articulated the way church works. I think we’ve been reading too much into the words of Scripture.

    What I think we have early on is a kind of congregationalism with gifts dispersed by the Holy Spirit. So we have people who oversee doctrine and people who help the poor and those who teach and so on. Nothing like what one associates with Roman Catholicism or any other episcopal-type church today. All of that represens later development. One can argue for or against such things, but one can’t really insist that that’s normative.

  12. “You seem to assume that a hierarchy once evolved is perpetual and perpetually right. You seem to emphasize the machinery of the church over the role of the Holy Spirit who comes and goes as he pleases and works when, where, and how he decides. Your view of the church seems to be very static.”

    Christ established a heirarchy for a reason Jon and he put no historical deadlines on it. This of course is terribly inconvenient for Protestants who tend to have a cafeteria approach to Sola Scriptura. Christ did not say upon this book yet to be written I will build my Church or upon whatever sort of structure Christians devise in the ages to come. What he did say was quite clear:

    “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    Now why did Christ do that? The thousand and one forms that Protestantism has devolved into supplies endless and eloquent answers to that question.

  13. When Christ said thou art Peter, who was considered but a pebble, and upon this rock I will build my church he meant that Peter made the good confession that Christ is the ROCK and that Christ will begin his church: Christ is Messiah, the Son of God. The rock, we know from Scripture, is Christ who is the foundation stone, and that which the very builders rejected that has become the capstone also. It is upon this rock that the church is built, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone.

  14. I don’t see where Christ established a hierarchy. I see where there was an era of apostles. Then I see the church assembling. I see the Holy Spirit dispersing gifts. I see some become elders who oversee doctrine. I see others become deacons who reach out to the needy. I see others who can teach. There is leadership involved in such things. I don’t see a hierarchy. That’s an exegetical maneuver that requires an enormous amount of elasticity, and I’m not willing to stretch the Scriptures that far. For what? So we can appear powerful amid the world? God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. So we can have answers to everything? Some things will simply go unanswered and diversity trumps uniformity. So we can defend civilization? We like the pope can affirm life in the face of death. And if civilization fails, the church moves on. I will not go the way of Chesterton and others who grew anxious because of modernity.

  15. “I don’t see where Christ established a hierarchy”

    Of course you don’t because you are eager to shove 1500 very inconvenient years of Church history from a Protestant viewpoint down the memory hole. The epistles of Paul already demonstrate a heirarchy. The Church Fathers are constantly referring to a heirarchy and the apostolic succession. Christianity is a heirarchical religion from its inception. The Protestant “reformers” of the Sixteenth Century had a poor grasp of theology by and large but their inability to deal with Church history caused them to come up with a truly ludicrous theory of mass apostacy until, ta dah!, Luther and Co arrived a millenium and a half after Christ to save the day!

  16. Thou art petros and upon this petra I will build my church. Peter was but a stone or pebble. Christ is the Rock spoken of throughout the O.T. and N.T. That much is very clear, Donald.

    This is not to mention the number of times Petros faltered and the words of our Lord, “Get thee behind me Satan” and the three times in which he denied the Lord. But more importantly, the evidence for Rock is incontrovertible.

  17. Donald, that reading is too simplistic. There is a universal church, the body of Christ. Then there is the local assemblies and the later developments. These often remain lively despite bureacratization. When it gets to be too much, it’s time for some reform. It’s a more nuanced view to which I hold.

    However, if one wishes to be precise about the start of the churhc, I think it was pretty congregational.

    As far as Peter is concerned, he was referred to as Petros while Christ is petra, the rock on wchih the churhc is built.

  18. Incorrect Jon.

    The passage makes no sense Jon per your standard Protestant interpretation and such an interpretation would have drawn guffaws from the Church Fathers.


    As for your pointing out portions of the Gospels where Peter failed or was taken to task by Christ, that makes him no different from all Popes who are taken from the ranks, as Peter referred to himself, of sinful men.

  19. I maintain the difference between petros who is Peter and petra which is the rock that is Christ. I don’t doubt the Patristics grew overly elaborate with time. Yes, Peter failed many times, but I don’t think that’s the reason: he simply isn’t the spiritual Rock spoken of in the O.T. and N.T.

  20. Where are you getting htis from, that the churhc was heirarchical from its inception? I don’t see that at all. It’s as if we’re not reading the same Acts and Epistles. I think you’re reading the Roman structure back into the early church. If the early chruch lacked something we often see today in chruch denominations, it was hierarchy. Did leadership exist? Of course! But not a hierarchy. We see the church speaking and acting in accord, with wordss and works going forth and returning to the chur h, not the heirarchy. We see decisions made and people disciplined by the church as a whole. Not by a group of elders or a bishop or a pastor. I simply don’t see the argument you ,make. I believe against Rome and several Protestant denominations that no hierarchy existed at the start. It developed later.

  21. Try reading Timothy Jon.

    Then read Saint Ignatius on Saint Polycarp:

    “But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time, a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles, that, namely, which is handed down by the Church.”

    Your argument that the early Church was not heirarchical has zero historical foundation.

  22. I’ve read Timothy many times through. I can see this discussion is going to go in circles, and I still think it’s about what we ‘see’. May God’s peace abide with us and I’m thankful for the unity of Spirit which really makes us one. The Pentecostal experience.

  23. Jon-
    “What are the scripture verses you can site for Marys perpetual virginity.”

    First Jon, this has been examined by theologians as early as the desert fathers.

    In Luke 1:28 the angel Gabriel salutes her as “full of grace.” Full of grace.

    Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, wad redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

    The most blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by singular grace and privilege of Almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

    C.C.C. 490-491

    Jon. God did not overshadow any other woman and plant the Redeemer of mankind in her. He chose Mary, however she did have to give her consent. Mary responded thank God, and you and Mary De Voe, Donald and all of the sinners like myself have a blessed Holy family to thank. Jesus first…thats called adoration.

    It is not impossible, that the Son Jesus formed his mother before He became the infant we so love. The first living tabernacle, spotless and holy, to carry for nine months the creator of the cosmos. This tabernacle remained Holy and spotless and continues to be.
    Thank you Jon.
    Thank you for pondering the Faith from the church that has endured countless attacks for over two thousand years. The true church of Jesus Christ. Yes founded upon The Rock. He was speaking to Peter. Giving him authority and preparing future generations to fully receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Fully, blood body, soul and divinity. Dr. Scott Hahn, a die hard protestant theologian found the Truth at a Catholic Mass. Your always welcome to join us. Peace Jon, and have a efficacious Lent.

  24. “…and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. And you yourselves are witnesses of these things. And I send forth upon you the promise of my Father. (Luke 24: 47-49) The Sacrament of Reconciliation, alone, part of only the Catholic Church. Jesus, the Risen Christ, to His Apostles, commissioning the Apostles to do all that He is commanding them to do. This would be Hierarchy. Our Lady said: “Do all that HE tells you” at the wedding feast at Cana. In addition to learning, Jon, please ask the Divine Lord, Jesus Christ for guidance and assistance, for He is guiding you.
    Donald McClarey: I appreciate all the links and how to find. I am going to copy them and pursue them. God bless you and yours.

  25. Your question, Jon, about proving something by whether or not there is a clear reference to it in Scripture, indicates that you don’t share a Judeo-Christian understanding of revelation. God does NOT solely reveal Himself in the Holy Scripture… He is of course revealed in many and wondrous ways in all His Creation, He revealed Himself to Moses face to Face. Do you also know that the Jews treasured Oral Tradition— not everything that we can know about God is written in Scriptures.
    You made some big leaps from questions about Mary to questions about the Church that Jesus established. Why would you be surprised that God the Holy Spirit would lead that Church to all Truth in an orderly (organized) way. Look at Moses’ organization in Exodus 18 for an OT foreshadowing of hierarchy in the Church.
    The Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 speaks to that sense of order, teaching responsibility, and authority based on the trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit “.. for it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” Remember they didn’t have the written New Testament yet– they knew and had been formed by the Old Testament, now fulfilled in Jesus. They remembered what Jesus taught and were guided by the Holy Spirit– they had been given a mission and they needed to be orderly to be authoritative– otherwise you could have 12 different Apostles teaching 12 different takes on questions. But Christ Himself prayed for them to be ONE, as He and His Father are One; and he told them to be Holy, as He is Holy… he sent them- HIs Apostles. That’s the Church He established. The Church is a miracle,– not just a human organization. Mary’s Virginal Motherhood is also a miracle. I hope you believe in miracles.

  26. Phillip, I don’t see how any of that points to sinlessness. How coudl any human be without sin? Forgiven, certainly. Without it? Impossible. I’ve listened to Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, Father Benedict Grourchel, Mother Anglelica, and the Jesuit before he got in trouble and I know they all think Mary was without sin. I just don’t believe it. One could never make a case for it on the basis of Scripoture. ONe would have to resort to tradition and subsequently override Scripture to say that Mary was without sin.

  27. Anzlyne, I believe God speaks in many different ways. I believe his revelation extends to all creation, but that at this time Scripture is our final authority. And if the Bible says all people are sinners we must belive this. We must assumne Mary was not sinless. Forgiven, certainly. But not without sin. We know she lived and died as we all do, that she did not receive a bodily resurrection which awaits us all at the last. She died as all saints die. To say anything more is to contradict and go beyond our final authority, which is Scirpture.

  28. BTW: Yesterday, 9 February 2013, was the 900th anniversary of the Knights Hospitallers, or the Knights of St. John, of Rhodes, and of Malta. If I were home, I’d re-read the account of the famous siege of Malta of 1565.

    Whenever we say the “Hail Mary” we may reflect on two facets: One, the Angelic Salutation: “Hail full of grace.” spoken to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel; and Holy Mary as the Mother of God, spoken by St. Elizabeth as St. John the Baptist leapt in her womb at Mary’s greeting.

    I am grossly unlearned in advanced theologicisms. So, take the following for what it’s worth. I believe the Church teaches that Mary was conceived without original sin (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception), all things are possible for God. And, Mary was gloriously assumed into Heaven where she was united with her divine son.

    “O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

    I know of no saint that was bodily assumed into Heaven, or a saint that appeared on Earth as did Mary at Fatima and at Lourdes. Ans, she saved Europe in interceeding for us at Lepanto.

  29. Jon.
    In the dead sea scrolls celibacy is a common practice of some Israelite sects.
    How is so difficult to believe that Mary had taken the vow.
    St. Epiphanius dismissed all arguments against Mary’s viginity. ( 4th century.) She was well established as simply “the Virgin.”
    St. Jerome spoke up in defense of her virginity.
    St. Joseph spouse of the Virgin Mary, honored her vow of virginity.
    Jon if your argument is passages that refer to Jesus’ “brethren,” as in Marks gospel, then please note the Hebrew customs which the word brother is more inclusive, applying to cousins as well.

    The vow of celibacy is a gift that we can not fully appreciate on this side of the veil.
    It is not a stretch of the imagine to consider the enormous responsibility and privilege to be chosen to cooperate in Gods plan of salvation as the role of Mother of God.
    How is it we doubt her ability to remain pure.
    Jon. Thanks again for allowing me to explain poorly a mystery so beautiful and treasured in our Faith. Glad to hear you know of Dr. Hahn’s work.

  30. Jon-
    Would Jesus take flesh and blood to form his human nature in a sin tainted form?
    Why would he?
    Wouldn’t He create His Mother to be spotless.

    “If you, Jon, could create your mother without original sin, you would…wouldn’t you?”
    Taken from pg. 158 of Hail Holy Queen, by Hahn. ( Jon added )
    I realize your steep in Scripture Solely, and that is your right. Coming Home, as Prof. Hahn expounds, is never to late…..He just wished he had earlier in life than later.

  31. T. Shaw, thank you for your explanation. I don’t beleive it’s possible for anyone to have experienced a bodily form after death. We have to remember the Bible’s teaching on this: on the last day Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, there will be a general resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, and some will go into everlasting life with God, and others will be consigned to eternal judgement. So humanity awaits resurrection in Christ. My belief based upon studying Scripture is that saints in Christ, upon death, go “home” to be with the Lord in the words of St. Paul. (To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.) But I along with the church of all times take this to mean without the body, seeing as one’s body returns to the earth until the Last Day. To say an exception occured in the case of Mary would be unwarranted and insupportable, not to mention highly contradicgtory to the biblical doctrine of the bodily resurrection. Hope this makes good sense to you.

  32. Phillip, you mention the dead sea scrolls which were unearthed back in teh 40’s, and the essene communities. Yes, celibacy had a place throughout the O.T. in various contexts. I know of the Essene movement, that many of their expectations were legitamate and met in Jesus ministry. I don’t deny the possiblilty that Mary had no other children. I just think it’s debatable and irrelevant. I see the vocation of Mary in terms of the Bible’s teaching and what we recite in the creeds. Certainly, celibacy figured prominantly in the remarks of Jesus and St. Paul, which reveals it is honored among those who receive its call. I don’t associate PERPETUAL celibacy or virginity with Mary, thoguh. I know Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.” This all Christians attest to down through the ages.

    I think it’s noteworthy Jesus came of the stock of Israel, and that as to his human nature, he was born of Mary. We fully accept that Jesus was God incarnate. i have no problem with the fact that Mary was a sinner, and feel that there is nothing wrong if she had other children with Joseph later on.

  33. Jon.
    ” I have no problem with the fact that Mary was a sinner, and feel that there was nothing wrong if she had other children with Joseph.”

    I do. I disagree with your notion of fact.

    It’s interesting that we have been sharing our views in the past two days….Feb.11th-12th.
    On the 11th we celebrate the great gift God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit gave us on this date in 1858. A miracle.
    This miracle is referred to as Lourdes. Lourdes France is the location of the visitations of our subject, Mary the Mother of God.
    Not aware of your familiarity of this miracle, I will touch on the highlights of the event.

    The seer, young Bernadette, was not very cleaver. She was undereducated, and came from a very poor but devout Catholic family.
    So poor that her father was given an abandoned jail from his brother to house his family in until things got better. The father was a poor business man, and didn’t always collect fee’s from his customers.
    The accounts of this highly scrutinized story come to a climax, when after several visitations of Mary to Bernadette the girl was asked by her parish priest to “ask the woman her name.”

    Upon doing so the woman replied; ” I am the Immaculate Conception.”

    The woman during her visits, had asked young Bernadette to tell the people that God was unhappy with the disposition of man. That man had fallen away from piety, from prayer, from the Gospel messages. She, The Mother of God, came to point people towards her Son, Jesus. To tell them penance and prayer is greatly needed at this time for man has wondered away from God.

    We, the church, have looked upon this event as a shining conformation of the dogma given us from Rome in 1854, just four years prior to the events in Lourdes. That God had allowed his Masterpiece, His obedient daughter, Loving mother, and cherished spouse the Blessed Virgin to confirm what theologians foe centuries have believed….that Mary was given a special singular gift from God at the moment of her conception…Free of all sin.

    Jon. Before the Mother of God departed from the cova at Lourdes, just after she confirmed what we believed to be true of her, she asked the girl to go to the spring. Bernadette only saw a small puddle. She wad told by Mary to take some tufts of grass and eat. When the child did so, the hundreds of people gathered there laughed at the girl. They thought she had gone mad. But suddenly a puddle turned into a flowing spring. One man that had been born blind that was present at this event, had his mother with him. She felt compelled to go to the water and wash her sons face. She did.
    He screamed with joy. I can see!
    Many millions of pilgrims have made their march to Lourdes over the years. Some are physically healed at the spring. Most are spiritual healings. People walk away feeling that they have been in a slice of heaven.

    I pose this question to you.

    If you are told to Eat of the flesh of the Son of God, and drink of His blood, can this be accomplished?

    Peace Jon.

  34. Phillip, I see you’re well acquanted with the Lourdes phenomenon. I know Marian revelations are thought to occur across the world. For me, Scripture is the final authrority against which we should judge reason, tradition, and certainly experience.

    We don’t actually find any hint of Mary’s supposed sinlessness or perpetual virginity in the New Testament. As the church expanded and developed, theologians developed a pretty sharp intuition for typology which probably took them further than we would often go today in most Christian denominations. I can see where the parallel of Adam and Christ would call forth a parallel of Eve and Mary, and I suspect some false extrapolation occurred in the process. It seemed important that a sound doctrine of the dual nature of Christ came through. To do this, one had to secure Mary as theotokos, or at least it was thought. And so the title likewise exists in Greek Orthodoxy, though they never developed as elaborate a sense as did the Latin West. And of course Rome didn’t articulate all of its Marian thought fully and dogmatically until the nineteenth century. The Marian cult had always existed, and in fact Mary was central in worship as far back as the middle ages, of course. As i said, we find the development of Mariology beginning in patristic times.

    Many traditions have arisen among Christian groups over the last two millennia. Some of these we have discerned to be holy and useful, whereas some other traditions have been judged to contradict Scripture and to detract from worship. These latter traditions have been modified or removed during times of reform.

    Based on a reading of Scripture apart from Roman Catholic tradition, one would never arrive at the assumption that Mary was sinless or that she necessarily remained a virgin until death, much less that she was assumed into heaven in bodily form. No Scriptural evidence for these beliefs exists. I’ve seen where people prooftext verses or attach a certain sentiment to a portion of Scripture in order to buttress the status of Mary, but those verses are understood far more easily in other terms, namely the immediate context. Far more verses exist which in some sense ‘relativize’ Mary’s status, and these are ignored by Marian proponents.

    My understanding is that our worship, adoration, and devotion belong to the Triune God alone, and never to another creature who is like us. I remain awestruck at the amazing grace of God through Jesus Christ, who is the Lord and the Savior of our lives.

    Peace Phillip.

  35. Jon:
    Jesus dying on the cross gave His Mother Mary to be the spiritual Mother of mankind. Being the spiritual Mother of mankind, Mary was the spiritual Mother of St. Joseph. Godmothers, Godfathers, and Godchildren are not allowed to marry as it is spiritual incest. As all of mankind are the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, adopted children of His Father, Who is in heaven, Christ remained a virgin. It would have been incest for Mary to lose her virginity with any of the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, as it would have been incest for Jesus to marry any of his brothers and sisters.

  36. Mary, I do not accept that Jesus gave his human mother to be the spiritual mother of mankind. I don’t know how one could arrive at such a reading of the text. But according to your logic, anyone who marries within the church commits incest! As I wrote earlier, I believe an enormous amount of misunderstanding has accumulated over the centuries, and it’s very difficult to cut through all of it to return to a biblical understanding of Mary. What Scripture teaches, and Scripture is my final authority, is that Mary was the mother of Christ with regard to his human nature, and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary as we often recite. It simply doesn’t go any further than that. I recognize all sorts of sentiments may be attached to Mary and that she has inspired people throughout church history, but my understanding of her is scripturally informed. I fully accept that traditions which do not contradict Scripture are permissable and often even desirable. But I cannot assent to any element of tradition which contradicts basic scriptural assumptions. These assumptions include that Mary was, apart from her vocation, a member of the human race, that she sinned like we all do, that she may or may not have continued in virginity which is irrelevant, and that she joined the Lord upon her death, but not in bodily form, as that would reverse the order of God’s economy.


  37. Jon: “These assumptions include that Mary was, apart from her vocation, a member of the human race, that she sinned like we all do, that she may or may not have continued in virginity which is irrelevant, and that she joined the Lord upon her death, but not in bodily form, as that would reverse the order of God’s economy.”
    Mary was never apart from her vocation. God’s economy requires that Mary, as Mother of the Son of Man, is Mother to us all to a man. Jon: If you remember being created in all virginity and innocence (God does not create sin), Mary remained in the Holy Spirit. With God all things are possible.

  38. Mary: I feel you sincerely believe what you say. I don’t find perpetual virginity and sinlessness associated with her in Scripture. I do believe she fulfilled her role as a sinner and do not believe perpetual virginity would be of any benefit in the broader scheme.

    It is wondrously true that Jesus was ‘conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary’, as the creed words it and as Scripture teaches us. However, one cannot find sufficient evidence to substantiate the notion that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life. The text simply doesn’t yield that kind of evidence. I consider it possible for her to have remained a virgin, but the evidence is very inconclusive and, I think, irrelevant to her vocation.

    Happily, for Mary to fulfill her vocation did not require that she be sinless. Indeed she could not be, since the entire human race sins! In Adam we all die, but in Christ we are made alive, as we learn from St. Paul. And to this doctrine concerning humanity Mary most certainly gave assent when she said, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”.

    We learn in Scripture that God calls some people to marriage and others to celibacy. Sexuality within a monogomous setting of one man plus one woman for life is indeed a holy option. Christianity assumes a God who is triune. It teaches that this triune God created a world of supplementarity, a world we affirm as essentially good, which finds restoration according to the plan of God. We affirm the creation because of our eschatological hope.

    It is my belief that Mary was a virtuous saint with a unique role in redemptive history, and that our understanding of her is at its best when scripturally informed. I strive to uphold scriptural teaching on all matters.

    Your thoughts?

  39. Jon-
    “…and in fact Mary was central in worship…”

    This is a lie that Protestants have used for 500 years Jon.

    Adoration is for God alone. Fact.
    Hyper-honor is given to Mary under adoration.
    Honor is given to Saints, under hyper-honor and under adoration.

    Mary has always been our helper and intercessor to Jesus. ( wedding feast at Cana )
    We all agree that Jesus leads us to the Father.
    Why such difficulty then to have Jesus’ Mother lead and present us to the Son?

    You and your ilk remind me of the Pharisees.
    600 laws to abide by in reading the Tora.

    The Catholic Family is just that, a family.
    We have pictures and busts of our family as a great reminder that they are still with us, and love us but as pure spirit.
    For any protester to use Mary Worship on this thread is laughable.

    By the way. You didn’t answer my question I posed earlier. Is it because; “…many of Jesus’ followers left him because the teaching was to difficult to believe.”
    We partake of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus as He instructed.

    Please continue your search for Truth Jon, for if your sincere and not like the Pharisee you will find Him in the Word and in the Holy Eucharist.

    One to ponder; “For our sakes God made Him Who did not know sin, to be sin, so that in Him we might become the very holiness of God.”

  40. Torah. Not Tora.

    I apologize for my tone.
    The great use of discussion and debate is to grow as individuals, and may we both come to know that which we grope for….the Peace that comes from God.
    Peace be with you.

  41. Jon,
    In a response to Mary DeVoe you make mention of Gods economy.
    By Mary the Mother of God giving her consent to the Angel Gabriel; “Let it be done according to your will, for I am the handmaid of the Lord” is not Mary working with God in the redemption of mankind?

    What do you say Scripture says about this fact?

  42. Phillip, you ask me about my thoughts on the Eurcharist. We have always practiced this in accordance with Jesus’ words: “Do this in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim my death until I come again.” It is a commemorative meal and I am open to the idea that it is a mystery we don’t fully grasp. Consequently, I would not seek to define it further. I am aware that when Jesus spoke those words, it was Passover and he hadn’t yet died, neither had he yet resurrected and ascended into heaven. So I would be inclined to understand the wording as metaphorical in that particular case. Jesus spoke firguratively or metaphorically on many occassions and we know that his words were altogether true, nevertheless. Of course God can accomplish anything and we believe that wholeheartedly. The question remains as to what he did and did not mean when he spoke. When the people walked away it was because they couldn’t accept that Jesus was the Son of God and specifically, the Life. In him we have life, and so we do ‘feed on him by faith’ and in a very real sense we are restored to life through him.

    The language of Scripture associated with Mary in the N.T. is very much in keeping witht the general language of Scripture throughout the O.T. as it relates to people called by God. She “stands above the crowd” as do many characters before her, though the writer of Hebrews provides us with the saintly hall of fame; the inspired author fails to mention her.

    The patristic writers are by no means unanimous on the subject of Mary. Neither are they unanimous on many other subjects. One must carefully sift through their writings bearing in mind that with the passage of time novel ideas arise.


  43. Jon.
    Your reformation is a novel idea to me.
    It wasn’t novel that as a woman Eve disobeyed death entered in. Nor is it a novel idea that God chose a woman Mary to undo the knot Eve made. Mary’s obedience ushered in Salvation for the human race.
    The ark of the covenant was sacred, honored and glory cloud accompanied, yet something, someone more holy…the new ark of the new covenant is stained?
    Jesus himself, the son of God housed in a stained womb for nine months.
    When you pass on and you see Mary you can address her “O novel one.”
    Seems to fit you.
    Peace Jon.

  44. Phillip:

    While Mary was referenced as the new ark by certain patristic writers, other earlier ones never spoke of her that way. As I said, the patristics are very complicated and at times contradictory. Typology is wholly legitamite and employed by the writers of Scripture, though capable of leading in wrong directions. Depending on who you read, you will learn that types have been attributed at times to the church and at other times to Mary. Typology is not a scientific but an intuitive hermeneutical approach. Hence there is much variation. Overall, earlier patristic writers are recognizably more conservative in their approach than later ones; the understanding of Mary earlier on is more in keeping with what we know of her from Scripture, whereas with time a much ‘higher’ view of Mary appears with greater frequency. The patristic writings that reflect Mary do not speak with a unified voice on the matter.

    As Christians, we affirm a creation that God came to rescue in Jesus Christ. Christianity is incarnational: ‘Conceived by the Holy Spirit, he was born of the virgin Mary’. Mary was a human vessel and there is no reason to believe that such a vessel should be without sin. Given the nature of incarnation, I would consider a sinless vessel counter-intuitive and far more in keeping with a gnostic reading.


  45. Mary:

    The incarnation is a singular belief to which we hold as Christians. We believe God entered into the life of humanity by becoming enwombed and enfleshed. A sinless Mary contradicts a biblical theology of God’s condescension to us. God’s love is creative, redemptive, and restorative, and such divine love entails identification with its object.


  46. Jon:
    “A sinless Mary contradicts a biblical theology of God’s condescension to us.”
    It wasn’t biblical theology that got man damned. It was the devil.

    Blasphemy against the Handmaid of the Lord is blasphemy against God. If God chooses to redeem Mary from the beginning of her existence, who are you to speak against God?

  47. Mary DeVoe-
    Remember Mary, Jon said “…it’s impossible for Mary to be sinless.”
    We have an inept God Mary. One that can’t speak through the Gospels of James, or the book of Maccabees….an inept Holy Spirit that failed until the whore monger set the Catholic Church right.
    It’s interesting that as the reformation was Seaton away 2 Million catholics, across the Atlantic Mother of God…Our Lady of Guadalupe brought about the conversions of 12 million Indians to the True faith. Not with a spear or threats of imprisonment, but with a tilma and a middle age Indian named Juan Diego. “Where sin abounds ( reformation ) Grace abounds all the more….Our Sinless Lady and Her Sons Holy Catholic Church.
    Let’s praise God for giving us His Mother as He did from the Holy cross……Jn. 19:26-27

    As John the beloved opened his home for her we likewise open our Hearts to Our mother Mary. We take her in and wonder how any lover of Jesus could deny His mother the respect she has earned by her calling and faithfulness. We must continue to pray for Jon.
    After all, we are adopted sons and daughters of the Holy Family.

  48. Philip: “As John the beloved opened his home for her we likewise open our Hearts to Our mother Mary. We take her in and wonder how any lover of Jesus could deny His mother the respect she has earned by her calling and faithfulness. We must continue to pray for Jon.”

    This is a very beautiful meditation.

    “After all, we are adopted sons and daughters of the Holy Family.”


  49. Mary and Phillip:

    I don’t doubt your sincerity in believing Mary was without sin, that she experienced a bodily assumption, and that she remained a virgin to the end of her life. I find her life inspiring and think we should maintain the proper emphasis that should be afforded her. She modelled great humility and obedience when she said, “Let it be according to your will.”

    As I wrote earlier, scriptural evidence for her perpetual virginity is extremely inconclusive. More importantly, as a member of ‘Adam’s race’ she sinned like we all do. And this I count the glory of it all, that God nevertheless deigned to reside in her womb. This example of condesension on the part of our Creator summons our praise and thanksgiving.


  50. Jon-
    I appreciate great works of art. You do as well.
    Our admiration for a spectacular piece only increases the respect for the artist.

    We never take anything away from Jesus by honoring, loving and interceding with His Mother. On the contrary, we are giving Him great praise by recognizing his work, found in the attributes of Mary.

    To be a Christ bearer is more than a deep study in Scripture. It is a study in profound love. We will be Judged on love more than any other activity we engaged in on Earth. How did we love….?

    As the above thread indicates I need much more practice in loving neighbor, however my passionate zeal to defend this dogma is rooted in my personal relationship with Jesus that only came by Grace. A grace that passed from the blood of Christ who claimed my sin and the debt owed, and exchanges it for new life in Him.
    How did I personally attain this realization?
    Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Her instruction. Why?
    Because the surest way to Jesus is via His Mother.
    How did Jesus come to us? Through His Mother. He chose the method. He chose poverty in a cold stable in Bethlehem. He chose a carpenter step father. He exults the lowly and lowers the self-exulted.
    He raises up his Mother as first because she was content with last. She never sought places of honor, yet she could of easily, being the Mother of Jesus. Why? She always served. She continues to do so. She is humility, compassion and a woman of deep contemplation. “…and your heart also a sword shall Peirce, laying bear the thoughts of many.” Mary is an example, a model of holiness that magnifies the Lord.
    How great that you and I have chances to magnify the Lord with our life. Our choices and actions can lead to this reality.
    My growth in holiness, which is constantly in need of weeding, consists #1 in Gods great Grace. Our participation in His grace helps keep the garden free from weeds.

    Peace…and understanding.

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