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The modern age, which gives primacy to sex, justifies promiscuity and divorce on the grounds that love is by its nature free—which, indeed, it is. All love is free love, in a certain sense. To be devoid of love is of the essence of hell. Scripture tells us: “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor 3:17). The ideal life is fulfilled—not in subjection to an absolute law but in the discriminating response of an educated affection.

The formula that love is free is right. The interpretation of this can often be wrong. Those husbands who leave one wife for another may justify their infidelity on the grounds that “one must be free to live his own life.” No one is ever selfish or voluptuous without covering up his demands with a similar parade of ideals. Behind many contemporary affirmations of the freedom of love is a false rationalization, for although love involves freedom, not all freedom involves love. I cannot love unless I am free, but, because I am free, still I may not love as I please. A man can have freedom without love—for example, he who violates another is free in his action when there is no one around to restrain him—yet he certainly has no love. A robber is free to ransack a house when the owners are away, but it is absurd to say that he loves the owners because he is free to steal. The purest liberty is that which is given, not that which is taken. […]

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If there is a heart in the audience that ever sent roses to a friend in token of affection or ever received them as a sign of remembrance, he will not be alien to this story of prayer!

Some deep instinct in humanity makes it link roses with joy. Pagan people crowned their statues with roses, as symbols of the offering of their own hearts. The faithful of the early Church substituted prayers for roses. In the days of the early martyrs—I say “early” because the Church has more martyrs today that it had in the first four centuries—as the young virgins marched over the sands of the Coliseum into the jaws of death, they clothed themselves in festive robes and wore on their heads a crown of roses, bedecked fittingly to meet the King of Kings in whose name they would die. The faithful at night would gather up their crowns of roses and say their prayers on them, one prayer for each rose. Far away in the desert of Egypt, the anchorites and hermits were counting their prayers too, but in the form of little grains or pebbles strung together into a crown—a practice which Mohammed took for his Moslems. From this custom of offering spiritual bouquets arose a series of prayers known as the Rosary, for Rosary means “a crown of roses.”

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Everyone is interested in a marriage. If the human heart does not have enough love in its heart, it seeks out those who are in love. The most famous marriage in history was at Cana, because Our Blessed Lord was present there.

A marriage in the East was always a time of great rejoicing. The bridegroom went to the home of the bride, and in those days it was never the bride who kept the bridegroom waiting but rather the bridegroom, as in the parable, who kept the bride waiting. The bride was veiled, from head to foot, to symbolize her subjection as a wife. Both partners fasted the whole day before the marriage and confessed their sins in prayer as on the Day of Atonement. Ceremonies began at twilight, for it was a custom in Palestine, no less than in Greece:

To bear away
The bride from home at blushing shut of day.



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In the study of law one of the most important subjects is evidence. One of the reasons why so few have arrived at a truth in which they believe absolutely is that they have forgotten the importance of proof. Evidence is one of the important divisions of theology. No belief can be accepted without proof or a “motive of credibility.” One might say that the greatest skeptics are the Christians, for they will not believe in the Resurrection until they see the crucified and dead Man arise from the grave by the Power of God Himself. One could take any doctrine of Christianity as an example of proof and of evidence, but we will take one that the modern world has rejected for the last three hundred years (after believing in it for the first sixteen hundred years), namely, the virgin birth of Jesus from His Mother, Mary, who is a virgin.

Before adducing our evidence, it is important to realize that the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, does not derive her belief from the Scriptures alone. This will come as a surprise to those who, whenever they hear of a particular Christian teaching, ask: “Is it in the Bible?” The Church was spread throughout the entire Roman Empire before a single book of the New Testament was written. There were already many martyrs in the Church before there were either Gospels or Epistles. An authoritative and recognized ministry was carrying on the Lord’s work at His command, speaking in His name as witnesses of what they had seen, before anyone decided to write a single line of the New Testament. […]

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The following is a homily given by the legendary Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen during a Mass at the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia in 1976. – Ed.

Fifty-seven years ago when I was ordained a priest, I took two resolutions: one, that I would say Mass every Saturday in honor of our Blessed Lady, for her protection during my priesthood. The second resolution was that every day of my life I would make a Holy Hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. These two are now conjoined, as I address you on the subject of Mary, the Tabernacle of the Lord. I shall speak of Mary and the Host, Mary and the Sword, Mary and the Holy Hour.

Not one of us has the power to make our own mother. If we did, we would have made her the most beautiful woman in the world. Our Lord pre-existed His own mother. Therefore He could make her the perfect mother. He thought of her from all eternity. As a matter of fact, the first Immaculate Conception was in the mind of God. When the first Paradise was lost, God said that He would make another Paradise; this Paradise, flesh-girt, to be gardened by a new Adam, would be our Blessed Mother. […]

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No mother whose son has won distinction for himself, either in a profession or in the field of battle, believes that the respect paid her for being his mother detracts from the honor or dignity that is paid her son. Why, then, do some minds think that any reverence paid to the Mother of Jesus detracts from His Power and Divinity? We know the false rejoinder of those who say that Catholics “adore” Mary or make her a “goddess,” but that is a lie. Since no reader of these pages would be guilty of such nonsense, it shall be ignored.

Where do this coldness, forgetfulness, and, at the least, indifference to the Blessed Mother start? From a failure to realize that her Son, Jesus, is the Eternal Son of God. The moment I put Our Divine Lord on the same level with Julius Caesar or Karl Marx, with Buddha or Charles Darwin, that is, as a mere man among men, then the thought of special reverence to His Mother as different from our mothers becomes positively repellent. Each famous man has his mother, too. Each person can say: “I have my mother, and mine is as good as or better than yours.” That is why little is written of the mothers of any great men—because each mother was considered the best mother by her son. No one mother of a mortal is entitled to more love than any other mother. Therefore no sons and daughters should be required to single out someone else’s mother as the Mother of mothers. […]

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Every person carries within his heart a blueprint of the one he loves. What seems to be “love at first sight” is actually the fulfillment of desire, the realization of a dream. Plato, sensing this, said that all knowledge is a recollection from a previous existence. This is not true as he states it, but it is true if one understands it to mean that we already have an ideal in us, one that is made by our thinking, our habits, our experiences, and our desires. Otherwise, how would we know immediately, on seeing persons or things, that we loved them? Before meeting certain people we already have a pattern and mold of what we like and what we do not like; certain persons fit into that pattern, others do not.

When we hear music for the first time, we either like or dislike it. We judge it by the music we already have heard in our own hearts. Jittery minds, which cannot long repose in one object of thought or in continuity of an ideal, love music that is distracting, excited, and jittery. Calm minds like calm music: the heart has its own secret melody, and one day, when the score is played, the heart answers: “This is it.” So it is with love. A tiny architect works inside the human heart drawing sketches of the ideal love from the people it sees, from the books it reads, from its hopes and daydreams, in the fond hope that the eye may one day see the ideal and the hand touch it. Life becomes satisfying the moment the dream is seen walking, and the person appears as the incarnation of all that one loved. The liking is instantaneous—because, actually, it was there waiting for a long time. Some go through life without ever meeting what they call their ideal. This could be very disappointing, if the ideal never really existed. But the absolute ideal of every heart does exist, and it is God. All human love is an initiation into the Eternal. Some find the Ideal in substance without passing through the shadow. […]

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On the eleventh day of February 1895, on the forty-first anniversary of the revelation of Our Lady at Lourdes, M. Jaurès spoke as follows in the French Chamber of Deputies:

The most priceless good conquered by man through all his sufferings and struggles, and despite all his prejudices, is the idea that there is no sacred truth; that all truth that does not come from us is a lie… if God Himself ever appeared before men, the first duty of man would be to refuse obedience and to consider Him an equal with us, not a Master to Whom we should submit.

This affirmation of man as against God is not new, except in its verbiage. From the very beginning, man was a rebel against his Divine destiny; consider the steward, who pretends to be the master of the vineyard and then kills the messengers of the Lord—the prodigal son who demands his share of the substance and then squanders it. Man has acted thus in the past, and now the revolution is again in full swing. […]

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It is very difficult for the unspiritual-minded to think of a golden mean between marriage and being alone. They think either that a person is tied up with someone in wedded life or else that he lives in solitude. The two are not exclusive, for there is such a thing as a combination of marriage and solitude, and that is absolute virginity with wedded life, in which there is a union of the soul of one with another and yet an absolute separateness of body. Only the joys of the spirit are shared, never the pleasures of the flesh.

Today the vow of virginity is taken only outside of human espousals or marriage, but among some Jews and among some great Christian saints, the vow of virginity was sometimes taken along with espousals. Marriage then became the frame into which the picture of virginity was placed. Marriage was like a sea on which the bark of carnal union never sailed, but one from which one fished the sustenance for life. […]

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One of the most beautiful moments in history was that when pregnancy met pregnancy—when childbearers became the first heralds of the King of Kings. All pagan religions begin with the teachings of adults, but Christianity begins with the birth of a Child. From that day to this, Christians have ever been the defenders of the family and the love of generation. If we ever sat down to write out what we would expect the Infinite God to do, certainly the last thing we would expect would be to see Him imprisoned in a carnal ciborium for nine months; and the next to last thing we would expect is that the “greatest man ever born of woman,” while yet in his mother’s womb, would salute the yet imprisoned God-Man. But this is precisely what took place in the Visitation.

At the Annunciation the archangel told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was about to become the mother of John the Baptist. Mary was then a young girl, but her cousin was “advanced in years,” that is, quite beyond the normal age of conceiving. “See, moreover, how it fares with thy cousin Elizabeth; she is old, yet she too has conceived a son; she who was reproached with barrenness is now in her sixth month, to prove that nothing is impossible with God. And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to thy word.’ And with that the angel left her” (Lk 1:36-38). […]

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