Friday, December 13, 2019

Saint of the day: Lucy the Martyr


Today we remember St. Lucy the Martyr or Santa Lucia! Little is known about this 3rd century saint. She died a martyr on this day in 305 AD. She is the patroness of those with eye difficulties. The following comes from catholic.org site.

Lucy's name means "light", with the same root as "lucid" which means "clear, radiant, understandable." Unfortunately for us, Lucy's history does not match her name. Shrouded in the darkness of time, all we really know for certain is that this brave woman who lived in Syracuse lost her life in the persecution of Christians in the early fourth century. Her veneration spread to Rome so that by the sixth century the whole Church recognized her courage in defense of the faith.

Because people wanted to shed light on Lucy's bravery, legends grew up. The one that is passed down to us tells the story of a young
Christian woman who had vowed her life to the service of Christ. Her mother tried to arrange a marriage for her with a pagan. Lucy apparently knew that her mother would not be convinced by a young girl's vow so she devised a plan to convince her mother that Christ was a much more powerful partner for life. Through prayers at the tomb of Saint Agatha, her mother's long illness was cured miraculously. The grateful mother was now ready to listen to Lucy's desire to give her money to the poor and commit her life to God.

Unfortunately, legend has it, the rejected bridegroom did not see the same light and he betrayed Lucy to the governor as a Christian. This governor tried to send her into prostitution but the guards who came to take her way found her stiff and heavy as a mountain. Finally she was killed. As much as the facts of Lucy's specific case are unknown, we know that many Christians suffered incredible torture and a painful death for their
faith during Diocletian's reign. Lucy may not have been burned or had a sword thrust through her throat but many Christians did and we can be sure her faith withstood tests we can barely imagine.

Lucy's name is probably also connected to statues of Lucy holding a dish with two eyes on it. This refers to another legend in which Lucy's eyes were put out by
Diocletian as part of his torture. The legend concludes with God restoring Lucy's eyes.
Lucy's name also played a large part in naming Lucy as a patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble.


Whatever the fact to the legends surrounding Lucy, the
truth is that her courage to stand up and be counted a Christian in spite of torture and death is the light that should lead us on our own journeys through life.

St. Juan Diego and the Miraculous Proof

The following comes from Word on Fire:
One of the ways to prove the Catholic claim is through miracles.  Catholicism, unique amongst all the faiths on Earth, has colorable claims of miraculous events with evidence.  One of these miraculous events is Our Lady's appearance to St. Juan Diego from December 9th to the 12th of 1531. You can find the full story here. And here's Her image on the tilma of St. Juan Diego.
 Now, there have been serious questions about whether this apparition is real.  I firmly believe it is, and the Church canonized St. Juan Diego, suggesting She does as well.  The arguments against the apparition become less compelling when you try and piece them together.  For example, it's claimed that since the Spanish didn't write about this event for over a decade (which is apparently true: the first existent writing we have from the Spanish is from 1548), then it didn't exist.  But given that the Spanish were often clueless about Aztec life, and didn't speak the Nahuatl language, this isn't a particularly troubling occurrence. There's little question that this was a devotion popular amongst Aztec converts, rather than Spanish cradle Catholics.  And while the Spanish don't write about the apparition (at first), there is plenty of historical evidence that after 1531, the number of Aztecs seeking Baptism jumps through the roof: As Called to Communion explains:

"This miracle precipitated the greatest flood of conversions in the whole history of Christianity. In the seven years following this miracle, approximately eight million Aztecs converted to Christianity [...]
Prior to this event, the Aztecs were offering thousands of human sacrifices per year in central Mexico, including child sacrifice. The conversion of the Aztecs to Christianity ended the brutal practice of human sacrifice, and helped bring Central and South America to Christianity."
Then there's also the fact that Santa Maria de Guadalupe is a religious devotion amongst the Spanish, leading other critics to claim that the Spanish made this myth up to convert the Aztecs.  This theory makes the most sense of the critical ones, but it doesn't hold water.  As we just established, the Spanish seemed unaware of the devotion in its early days.  Surely, if they were the ones spreading it, we'd see some documentation that they were - something in a diary about how they were explaining the Virgin of Guadalupe to the Aztecs.  There's nothing of the sort.  Instead, many of the earliest Spanish writings are skeptical, while it's the Aztecs themselves who are the believers. Besides this, fiber testing shows that this tilma isn't Spanish in origin, but is made from Mexican hemp.
 The picture that emerges is a fascinating one.  It seems too Mexican to be Spanish, and too Spanish to be Mexican.  And it's far too Christian to be a warmed-over Aztec goddess cult, one of the other theories.  Called to Communion notes:
"The image shows Mary as a humble but royal maiden. Under her feet is the Moon, which for the Aztecs represented the devil. In this way the image depicts Mary as crushing the head of the serpent, and corresponds to the description of the woman described in Revelation 12."
Consider this for a moment: Mary and Her Seed, Christ, are depicted stepping on the head of Satan in Genesis 3:15.  Later, She's depicted as pregnant with Jesus stepping on the moon in Revelation 12:1. Neither the Spanish nor the Aztecs made these accounts up.  They're from separate Books of Scripture, and each predate the apparitions by well over a millenia.  Yet given the Aztec symbology, with its curious identification of the moon with the devil, this image served as beautiful exegesis explaining Mary's Biblical role in salvation.  As an added twist, the Nahuatl word Coatlaxopeuh, which is pronounced like Guadalupe, means something like "One who crushes serpents" [Coa(serpent), tla (the), xopeuh (crush, stamp out)], again supporting that the one who appeared to St. Juan Diego was truly Mary, and not something sinister.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Archbishop Sheen on the Holy Spirit

“The Descent of the Holy Ghost Upon the Apostles. Many have wished that Our Blessed Lord had remained on earth, that we might have heard His voice, seen His compassionate eyes, and brought our children to be blessed by His hands. But He said ‘I can say truly that it is better for you I should go away; He who is to befriend you will not come to you unless I do go, but if only I make my way there, I will send Him to you.’ If our Lord remained on earth, He would have been only a symbol to be copied – not a life to be lived. By returning to his heavenly Father, He could then send both from the Father and Himself the Holy Spirit that would make Him live on earth in His new Body, which is the Church. The human body is made up of millions of cells, and yet is one because vivified by one soul, presided over by a visible head, and governed by an invisible mind. So on Pentecost, the Apostles, who were like the cells of a body, became Christ’s Mystical Body, because vivified by His Holy Spirit, governed by one visible head, Peter, and presided over by one invisible head, Christ in heaven. Our glorious Church is not an organization, but an organism. As our Lord once thought, governed, and sanctified through a human body, which He took from the womb of His blessed Mother, so now he teaches, governs, and sanctifies through his Mystical Body, the Church, which He took from the womb of humanity overshadowed by His Holy Spirit. Christ was infallible when He talked through a human body; He is still infallible when he teaches through a mystical Body. Christ sanctified when he forgave sins with human lips; He sanctifies still when he forgives sins through the power of His priests. Christ governed through His human Body, and he governs still. ‘He that heareth you, heareth Me.’ As a drop of blood can live in the body, but the drop of blood cannot live apart from the body, so neither can any of us live the fullness of the Christ Life except in His Mystical Body, the Church.” 

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (The Fifteen Mysteries)

Monday, December 9, 2019

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception


The following is a meditation of Pope Benedict on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception from Zenit:

O Mary, Immaculate Virgin,

Again this year, with filial love, we meet at the foot of your image to renew to you the homage of the Christian community and of the city of Rome. Let us pause in prayer here, following the tradition inaugurated by previous Popes, on the solemn day in which the liturgy celebrates your Immaculate Conception, a mystery that is a source of joy and hope for all the redeemed.

We greet you and call upon you with the Angel's words: "full of grace" (Lk 1:28), the most beautiful name that God himself has called you from eternity.

"Full of grace" are you, Mary, full of divine love from the very first moment of your existence, providentially predestined to be Mother of the Redeemer and intimately connected to him in the mystery of salvation.

In your Immaculate Conception shines forth the vocation of Christ's disciples, called to become, with his grace, saints and immaculate through love (cf. Eph 1:4). In you shines the dignity of every human being who is always precious in the Creator's eyes.

Those who look to you, All Holy Mother, never lose their serenity, no matter what the hardships of life.

Although the experience of sin is a sad one since it disfigures the dignity of God's children, anyone who turns to you discovers the beauty of truth and love and finds the path that leads to the Father's house.

"Full of grace", are you, Mary, which, welcoming with your "yes" to the Creator's plan, opened to us the path of salvation. Teach us also at your school to say our "yes" to the Lord's will. Let it be a "yes" that joins with your own "yes", without reservations or shadows, a "yes" that the Heavenly Father willed to have need of in order to beget the new Man, Christ, the one Saviour of the world and of history.

Give us the courage to say "no" to the deceptions of power, money, pleasure; to dishonest earnings, corruption and hypocrisy, to selfishness and violence; "no" to the Evil One, the deceitful prince of this world; to say "yes" to Christ, who destroys the power of evil with the omnipotence of love. We know that only hearts converted to Love, which is God, can build a better future for all.

"Full of grace", are you, Mary! For all generations your name is a pledge of sure hope. Yes! Because as the great poet, Dante, wrote, for us mortals you are "a source of living hope" (Paradise, XXXIII, 12). Let us come once again as trusting pilgrims to draw faith and comfort, joy and love, safety and peace from this source, the wellspring of your Immaculate Heart.

Virgin "full of grace", show yourself to be a tender and caring Mother to those who live in this city of yours, so that the true Gospel spirit may enliven and guide their conduct; show yourself as Mother and watchful keeper of Italy and Europe, so that people may draw from their ancient Christian roots fresh vigour to build their present and their future; show yourself as a provident and merciful Mother to the whole world so that, by respecting human dignity and rejecting every form of violence and exploitation, sound foundations may be laid for the civilization of love.

Show yourself as Mother, especially to those most in need: the defenceless, the marginalized and outcasts, to the victims of a society that all too often sacrifices the human person for other ends and interests.

Show yourself, O Mary, as Mother of all, and give us Christ, the Hope of the world! "Monstra Te esse Matrem", O Virgin Immaculate, full of grace! Amen!

Archbishop Fulton Sheen: The Woman I Love

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Archbishop Fulton Sheen: Christ, Priesthood and Victimhood

“If in Christ, Priesthood and victimhood are inseparable, should this not be so in ‘other-Christ’s’? Why have we considered ourselves only as offerers and not as offered, as preachers and not as sin-bearers, as social workers and not as redeemers? The priest is called to be a sin-bearer, as Christ was. This does not mean that he must wear hair shirts. Penance does not require hair shirts today; our neighbors are hair shirts. Victimhood means that we feel the guilt and sin of the world as if it were our own, and by constant union with Christ, seek to reconcile all mankind to Him. Love means identification with others – not only with the sheepfold, but also those who are not in it. If sin were finished, the Priest need only be a Priest; but if Calvary is continuing then the glorified Christ can still ask: why do you persecute me?” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Those Mysterious Priests)

Friday, November 15, 2019

What do Catholics believe about Salvation?