Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Immaculate Conception

[A GRAMBUS post] 
On Feb. 11, after I posted the explanation for the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes, a Protestant friend sent me a link to her church’s stand on Mary that I would like to now respond to.

But, first a brief background explanation of Our Lady of Lourdes from AmericanCatholic.org.
The Lourdes Grotto today
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus. A little more than three years later, on February 11, 1858, a young lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. This began a series of visions. During the apparition on March 25, the lady identified herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed. She also knew the prayer of the Miraculous Medal: “O Mary conceived without sin.”During interrogations Bernadette gave an account of what she saw. It was “something white in the shape of a girl.” She used the word aquero, a dialect term meaning “this thing.” It was “a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm.” Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Bernadette was also impressed by the fact that the lady did not use the informal form of address (tu), but the polite form (vous). The humble virgin appeared to a humble girl and treated her with dignity.

One of the beautiful outcomes of Mary’s appearance in February 11, 1858, to a poor, peasant girl in Lourdes, France—besides revealing a stream of water that has been a source of healing to this day—was the name that

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Behold Him

The Elevation of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrifice
[A GRAMBUS post.]

It happened again yesterday at Holy Family parish where I attend daily Mass.  Now that it’s happened so much, I wonder if I’m going to receive inspiration in regard to every single utterance by the priest during the Liturgy.  As you will recall (from a previous blog), the first inspiration I received during the Mass was when the priest spoke these words, “Blessed/Happy are those CALLED to the Supper of the Lamb.”  At that moment, during that particular Mass, I knew God was speaking to me, and I was one of the called.  For many years, I was not called.  As a Protestant Christian, I had no idea what was happening in the Mass or even that there was a Mass.  I thought “mass” was just what Catholics called their “church worship service” like any other church meeting on a Sunday morning.  Now that I KNOW what is really happening in the Mass—a collision of heaven and earth in a most miraculous way during EVERY part of it—and, now that I attend almost daily throughout the week, the Mass has become a way that God personally communicates with me about what is happening.

So, yesterday, many weeks after the first inspiration accounted above, (and, in addition to several inspirations between then and now), I heard the words just BEFORE the “Blessed are those who are called…” words out of the mouth of the priest, as if they were being spoken straight to me:  “Behold the Lamb of God!  (That was normal.)  Behold HIM who takes away the sins of the world.”  (Those words hit me between the eyes!)  As he says these words, the priest is holding up the consecrated host and cup, which are now the presence of Jesus in body and blood.  So I knelt there speechless thinking:  God has spoken to me again saying through the priest:  Jesus IS the ONE.  He IS the ONLY ONE who takes away the sins of the world.  Jesus, the Lamb that was slain.

AND, I knew, as I heard those words that there is no one else who can make that claim!
Who else besides Jesus can say that they can take away the sins of the world?  No one!

My “inspiration” about Jesus reminds me of St. John’s “revelation” about Jesus in chapter 5 of Revelation when, in a vision, he is able to look into heaven. Verse 2 says, “Then I saw a mighty angel who proclaimed in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll, and break its seals?’”  Verses 3 & 4 say, “But NO ONE in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to examine it.  I shed many tears because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to examine it.”  This scroll was of paramount importance to our salvation.  Without a worthy person to open it, human beings could never be redeemed from their/our sinful state.  Then, in verse 5 John says, “One of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep.  The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed, enabling him to open the scroll with its seven seals.’”  Verses 6 & 7 reveal to St. John the One who is worthy.  “Then I saw standing in the midst of the throne the four living creatures and the elders, a Lamb that seemed to have been slain… He came and received the scroll from the right hand of the one that sat on the throne.”  The rest of the chapter is about the beautiful song that the elders sing as they bow down with the four living creatures before the Lamb/Jesus in praise to him, who are soon joined by ALL the heavenly host “countless in number” singing the same words of praise!

We join that everlasting song, too, during the Mass.  Every Mass proclaims that Jesus is the Lamb of God slain for our salvation, and we look upon him with eyes of faith saying, “Yes, HE IS the ONE who takes away the sins of the world.”  ...the ONLY one worthy to do so—the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.  …to open the scroll.  …to do what it says—become one of us, …flesh and blood—to shed his blood—the only blood that can cleanse away our sin.

The next time you come to Mass, proclaim Jesus as “HIM who takes away the sins of the world” as the priest presents Jesus in those words after he says, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  …and, know how blessed you are to be called to His Supper!