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Mary’s Sinlessness and Our Salvation

Photograph by Adrienne Taylor
Sinless suffering.

Have you ever thought about what it would have been like if Mary hadn’t been sinless?  After pondering on Jesus’s adherence to the fourth commandment (Commanded to Love Mary) I realized that by the implications of the commandment, to honor thy father and mother, Mary had to be sinless.  Also, in writing this article, I’ve come to realize how the Church’s Marian teachings highlight both God’s sovereignty and the utmost importance of our salvation.

In God’s perfect plan for our salvation, He chose to involve Mary from beginning to end.  The Holy Spirit did not descend upon her until she gave her consent to Angel Gabriel.  Likewise, Mary was compelled to give her unwavering consent throughout the entire gruesome passion of her Son as He died for our sins.  Mary’s sinlessness is less about her never having done anything “bad” and more about the relationship God had (has) with her.

In the Gospel of Matthew (16) we read about Jesus calling Simon blessed, renaming him to Peter and then building His Church upon him.  Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail over His Church!  Yet, the Gospel of Matthew continues on to record Jesus next exclaiming to St. Peter, “Get behind me Satan!”  This is quite a letdown for the next words uttered to our first pope.  What drew such a remark from our Savior?  Jesus had for the first time revealed to the disciples that He must suffer and die.  Naturally, St. Peter, who loved Jesus with a love we can only hope to achieve, cried out upon hearing the news, “God forbid, Lord!  No such thing shall ever happen to you.”  How could this cry out of love be worthy of being attributed to Satan?  The Catechism provides several definitions of sin, the first of which concludes, “… It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’”   St. Peter, out of love for Jesus, committed a sin against the eternal law by desiring Christ would not suffer and die.

What would have been the implications for our salvation if Mary had harbored desires contrary to the eternal law?  Sadly, though by God’s perfect plan, St. Joseph had passed away sometime between Jesus’s childhood and adulthood, but, Mary remained by Jesus’s side through His death, resurrection, and ascension.  By consequence of Jesus’s perfect adherence to the fourth commandment, Mary had an unfathomable amount of power.  When she expected a reluctant Jesus to turn water into wine, Mary demonstrated the power she had over her Son.  This power, of course, was not of her own.  God willingly gave her this invincible kind of power over Jesus when creating a mother for Himself, and God found it fitting for her to be beside Jesus with this power throughout His life.  Could God have allowed this in His plan had Mary been ordinary?

Photograph by Adrienne Taylor
Mary with her expired Son.

Imagine how much Satan lusted after the power of Mary.  Satan tried to tempt Jesus in His weakness during His 40 days in the desert, but of course failed because Jesus is the all powerful God.  However, Mary was a mere human.  Since sin, in its most basic definition, is anything that separates one from God, and because Satan must be rather powerful himself to be a worthy adversary of God’s, it stands to reason that Satan would have been waiting for any opportunity for Mary to have been separated from God in order to successfully worm his way in.  Satan could have corrupted Mary even through original sin, since original sin is being created in a state separated from God.  All Satan needed to happen was for Mary to show even a little maternal remorse at any crucial part of Jesus’s passion, or utter words against God’s eternal law like St. Peter did, and Jesus would have been conflicted in His mission.  His parents would not have been united.  He would have felt compelled to carry forth with honoring His Father, but at the expense of dishonoring His mother, which would have been sinful.  Or He would have been compelled, in His perfection, to honor His mother’s wishes and avoid suffering the death upon the cross, but that contradicted His Father’s plan.  God’s perfect plan for our salvation demanded a perfect sacrifice, a sinless Jesus.  God’s perfect plan for our salvation also included Mary every step of the way.  In order for Mary to have been allowed to be present throughout Jesus’s life, and in order for Jesus to remain sinless while adhering perfectly to the fourth commandment, Mary too, had to be sinless, she had to be perfectly in union with God’s eternal law.

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the singular most important event in salvation history, would we expect anything less than the best possible plan from our God?   Our Church’s teachings on Our Lady demonstrate just how great God is and just how important our salvation is to Him.  Let us be thankful that He made His Mother so miraculously holy!  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”, this is the first commandment with a promise.  Ephesians 6:1-2

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Amen

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4th Commandment Adrienne Doctrine Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mary Prayer Sacred Scripture Saints Ten Commandments

Commanded to Love Mary

As Catholics, we wholly love our triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Every day  we attend mass we literally sit at the feet of our Lord Jesus, mystically united in time to the moment He gave His life for us on the cross.  Before the altar of the most Blessed Sacrament we are privileged to worship Him, thank Him, love Him, and depend on Him.  We are beside everyone that has ever attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, beside all of the angels, beside all of the saints, and beside everyone who was at the foot of His cross at Golgotha…  we are beside His Mother, Mary.

Jesus’s life was bookended with Mother Mary, she was present at His birth, and at His death.  Before God sent us our Savior, He first created the vessel by which that Savior would come.  Instead of celebrating Christmas each year, we could be celebrating the Descension of Jesus, or some other event by which God sent our Savior.  God’s plans are always perfect and always have more meaning than we can ever humanly fathom.  In all of His infinite wisdom and in His love for us, God included a mere human in His plan for our salvation.  Our Father gave Himself a human mother.

In the book of John it is recorded that during the Last Supper Jesus reminded his disciples, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” In fact, He mentioned keeping the commandments many times.  The first three commandments all deal with how we are to have a relationship with our Lord.  Then, surprisingly, the fourth commandment, listed before don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness… is to honor your father and mother.  This particular commandment is oddly out of place between the first three dictating proper worship of our Lord God and the latter six thou shall nots.  It must be important.

Jesus entrusts his mother to his disciple John.

We are commanded to honor our father and mother.  We are also called to follow Jesus as our example of Christian living.  Jesus lived a life perfectly without sin, He upheld every one of the ten commandments, daily.  He perfectly honored both His Father, our Lord God, and His Mother, Mary.  Isn’t it interesting that God created a commandment to honor our father and mother, then when He came down to Earth He provided Himself a mother which allowed Him to perfectly fulfill the fourth commandment?  In His plan for our salvation, God submitted Himself to honoring a human.  Jesus showed us how to perfectly follow the first commandment and all the while have the most perfect honor for His mother with the fourth commandment. At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus performed His first miracle at the behest of Mother Mary (John 2), and while hanging on the cross He made sure not to expire before arranging proper care for her (John 19).  He did not shy away from loving His mother out of fear of offending His Father.  He did not ignore His mother or feel indifferent toward her.  Jesus was still submitting Himself to honoring His mother while dying to provide us eternal life, that is how important she is to Him.  He wholly and perfectly loves His mother out of His love for His Father.

So, how is your relationship with Mary?  Do you forget she’s even there?  Imagine a family in which, day after day, the children lovingly flock to the father while it is as if their adoring mother is not even in the room.  Imagine the pain God must feel when day after day we ignore or even actively reject the Mother He gave Himself, the Mother that He loves with a child-like love, the Mother that He commands us to love.  Your relationship with Mother Mary should be a proportionate indicator of your love for Our Father.

Don’t know how to begin a relationship with Our Lady?  Pray for God to assist you in beginning a relationship with His Mother.  Remember to talk with Mary at mass, as she is there beside you, at the foot of Her Son’s holy cross.  Ask for her prayers.  Ask her to pray for you to have a devotion to the Father like the devotion she is privileged to have.  Ask both Our Lady and Our Father for forgiveness for not including her in your life the way we are commanded to.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Please share about your relationship with Our Lord’s most blessed Mother!

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Mercy and Justice -or- My Perfect Confession

+JMJ+

I’m Catholic and have been since birth.  My faith has always been part of the definition of me.  That being said, in May 2010 my world fell apart and the foundations of my faith cracked.

At 8:50 pm on May 26th 2010 my beautiful daughter Rita Marie was born.  She weighed 8lbs even and was 21 inches long.  She had a head of gorgeous black hair.  She was all me but for her nose and her hands – those were her daddy’s.

She was perfect.

But she wasn’t breathing.

A special ambulance came and rushed her to the local Children’s hospital.  There she stayed for two days.  She died in my arms when she was but 48 1/2 hours old.  I sang to her as she left us for Heaven and Life Everlasting.  Her daddy made sure of of her destination when, good Catholic man that he is, he baptised her as soon as it was evident she wasn’t breathing.

I’m so blessed to have a Saint in Heaven who is especially concerned for me and my family.  But I am also broken.  I have struggled greatly since Rita came and left us.  On the Feast of the Assumption I went to Confession for the first time in 10 months.  10 months is a long time for sin to build.  I didn’t even know where to start and I let Father know.  I was expecting to come out with a penance that would take me hours to complete but God surprised me with His Justice and Mercy.  He had just the right Priest waiting for me and cleared the line so that I could quickly duck into the confessional without having to wait for ages.

Without going into intimate detail of my fallen nature, Father said two things that stuck with me.   The first was that there are two parts to faith: the intellectual knowledge or understanding that God is Real and the trust that He wants good for us.  The second thing that stuck with me was my penance and the spiritual guidance received.  Respectively, to pray simply the prayer of St. Faustina “Jesus, I Trust in You.” a certain number of times and to say every day, as many times as needed, “Lord give me the light and grace to get through this day.”

I truly feel God’s love and mercy from that penance.  He knows I am already hurting and broken and chose to remind that I am His and that He loves me even when I am expecting Him to give me the spiritual equivalent of a good spanking.

I went into the confessional feeling like God had it in for me –  like I was His new Job – and came out feeling like Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Our God is both Merciful and Just.  He is perfectly both and measures each to us as we need.

Jesus, I Trust in You.