Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Our Lady: Model of Holiness

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2030, teaches us that: "It is in the Church, in communion with all the baptized, that the Christian fulfills his vocation. From the Church he receives the Word of God containing the teachings of 'the law of Christ.' From the Church he receives the grace of the sacraments that sustains him on the 'way.' From the Church he learns the example of holiness and recognizes its model and source in the all-holy Virgin Mary..."

This morning, at Christmas Mass, the pastor of my parish described Our Lady as having entertained sinful thoughts. Specifically, he implied that she would have harbored resentment against St. Joseph (for having thought that she had been unfaithful to him) and for the conditions which she had to endure while giving birth in Bethlehem. This priest asked the married women in the parish if they wouldn't hold a grudge against their husband if he accused them of having been unfaithful. What this priest fails to understand, however, is that Our Lady was conceived without any stain of Original Sin and, as a result, never committed any sin during her lifetime. Again the Catechism:

After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and his restoration from his fall. This passage in Genesis is called the Protoevangelium ("first gospel"): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of hers.

The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the "New Adam" who, because he "became obedient unto death, even death on a cross", makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam. Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the "new Eve". Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ's victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.

But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, "Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away." And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exsultet sings, 'O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'" (CCC, 410-412).

It may be difficult for this priest to understand the fact that Our Lady never even entertained sinful thoughts or held grudges. But it is nevertheless true. Let's all pray for this priest: that he will come to see Our Lady as a model of holiness and will come to understand and acknowledge the fact that the Immaculata never entertained sinful thoughts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To the pure of heart...
I recommend them to read this book entitled..."Mary's Sweet Memories"..It describes the life of Mary with Jesus and Joseph at the Holy Home of Nazareth...about the Holy Family's earthly life: days, months, years. It is a superb-wonderful book ..very uplifting..and touching!!!! You will love Our Lady very very much!!:)))

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