Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Queen Spouse and The Dragon

On Monday August 15, 2016, the Church celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. On August 15, 2009, I had the privilege of attending the celebration at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto presided over by Thomas Collins the Archbishop of Toronto who, as the Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto, presided over the opening Mass on the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus on Tuesday August 2 attended by thousands of the faithful and over a hundred and fifty cardinals, bishops, and priests from Canada, America, Europe and Latin America where the Knights of Columbus are actively serving the communities and the universal Church. Here is an excerpt of what I gathered from the homily by the Archbishop of Toronto on the Assumption of the Virgin Mary celebrated in August 2009:
The story of Mary Mother of God inspired the Venerable American Archbishop Fulton Sheen to give a talk, before his passing away in 1979, in which he significantly relates Mary to the passion and death of Christ her son. Dying on the cross, Christ tells his Mother how she will participate in his sufferings as prophesied by Simeon in the Temple (Luke 2:35), calls Mary "Woman" and gives her to his beloved disciple John to be the Mother of the Church; a title declared solemnly by Blessed Pope Paul VI in the closing moments of Vatican II in 1965, but with this new relationship, Mary becomes the Spouse of the Lord symbolizing the growing Church that will deliver saints throughout centuries of hardship and renewal. The reader may wish to listen to the talk here: . According to Thomas Collins, this is Mary the same woman identified in Apocalypse known as Revelation [God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God....Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One.”] (Revelation 11: 19a; 12: 1-6a; 10 ab )

But how was the kingdom built? Msgr. Robert Nusca, Pastor of Holy Rosary Church and Professor of theology at the University of Toronto, made reference to "Baptism by Fire" in his homily on Sunday August 14, 2016 readings. Albeit from a different Biblical angle, Msgr. Nusca touched on the keynote speech by Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. which he will deliver on September 10 in the presence of Cardinal Collins and other dignitaries attending the Toronto Caritas event in support of persecuted Christians and other needy ones in the Middle East. In the Gospel, Jesus challenges the disciples [“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”]. Msgr. Robert Nusca compared it to "Baptism by the Spirit" who works in the hearts to help them get transformed into the image of God, the God of mercy and love revealed by his Son Jesus Christ. The Baptism that Christ makes possible through the Holy Spirit is indicated  by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians, Msgr. Nusca said "Christians must carry their crosses wherever they are because the cross of Christ is the only way to eternal joy." Paul writes "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2: 20). The purification process can also be found in his first Epistle to the Corinthians "For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw -- each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." (1 Cor 3: 11-15).

In 2008, Fr. Georges Farah spoke about the reality of the Assumption or Dormition of Mary Mother of God: "In the Tradition of the early Christians, Mary lived with the Apostles after our Lord ascended to heaven. She lived in Ephesus with John the Apostle. When her death was imminent she felt her Son will take her and she told the Apostles around her. When she died Thomas who was preaching in India was not there. He had a vision that Mary passed away so he hurried back. Since Thomas doubted the Resurrection of Christ, the tradition attributes to him another doubt (that of the Assumption). In the story,  upon Thomas’ return the Apostles opened Mary’s tomb but found it empty. This confirmed that her body was taken up to heaven. Thus the doctrine of the Assumption has been with us since the second century. But why was Mary taken up to heaven?  The answer is simple if you look at the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. You see there Mary laid in the casket, like anyone who dies. You see around her the Apostles. The closest are John, who is quite sad, and Luke too. But Jesus standing on top is carrying a baby in his hand. Who is this baby? It is also Mary. So in the icon there is Mary’s body and also Mary being carried by Jesus. The meaning of the Assumption is here: As Mary carried Jesus in her womb and when he was a child, he also carries her when she is old and weak. Further more, she is always obedient to him as he as a child was obedient to her. Whenever Jesus asked her something, she always comforted him, and now whenever she asks him something, her prayer is always answered. Mary points us to Jesus. She does not replace him. She witnesses to him. And this leads us to the Chrism oil which the Church puts on the newly baptized so that he/she witnesses too to Christ. The Chrism oil is made up of 36 perfumes. The Church is telling us that when you are becoming a witness to Christ, you will be full of joy, peace and love. You will receive the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Be not afraid: Christ has overcome our sins. He is alive and Mary is the greatest witness of him."

To Apocalypse now:The question in today's context remains - If Mary symbolizes the Spouse of the Lord, crowned Queen of heaven, who is the huge red dragon ? Could it be a sign for Satan ? This is a big question that will be asked again and again. Here are keys to think about:
1. The civilized world is under a threat especially in the dictators of radical Islam, Russia, and China;
2. The civilized world has undergone major changes since the Enlightenment until today in claims by scientism, neo-liberalism, modernism, post-modernism, materialism, atheism, and globalization using advanced new technology where prostitution and drug trafficking are traded on the DarkNet; a new form of slavery ...
3. Terrorism is hidden by manipultive powers in and outside the Church until Christianity is subdued and Christ is no longer worshiped anywhere except probably in the primitive tribes of Africa...
The world is confused but humans are unique - Here are material that may help the reader understand:
a. What explains the rise of humans (Published in July 2015, this is a brief talk by Yuval Harari, Professor of History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem):
b. Written in October 2014, this is a contemporary interpretation of "the Beast and the False Prophet" in Revelation:
c. Written on July 30, 2016, "Today's Myths" and struggles for power are analysed based on Girard's thought of mimetic rivalry and the scapegoat as related especially to two dictators: Erdogan of Turkey and Putin of Russia :
d. Written by Giulio Meotti and published in Gatestone Institute International Policy Council on August 10, 2016, this article touches upon "Islam's Quiet Conquest of Europe"
e. Written by Robert Jones and published in Gatestone Institute International Policy Council on August 15, 2016, this article touches upon racism and xenophobia in Turkey:

These are hard times. Let us pray the Virgin Mary for Pope Francis and all Christians...Time to wake up!.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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