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Non-Muslims generally harbor a pejorative view of Islam.  This presentation offers a different perspective, a Marian outlook espoused by the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in his book,The World’s First Love, and shared by other devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Islam’s creed

Islam is the only great post-Christian religion of the world.  Since it originated in the seventh century under the leadership of Muhammad, it was possible to include some elements of Christianity and Judaism along with some customs of Arabia. 

Islam seems to use the doctrine of the unity of God, his majesty and his creative power, to reject Christ as the Son of God.  Not understanding the notion of the Trinity, Muhammad recognizes Christ as a prophet announcing himself, that is, Muhammad.

Christian Europe, the West, barely escaped eradication at the hands of the early Muslim jihadists.  At various times the Muslims were repulsed near Tours, Vienna, Lepanto and other areas.  The Church across North Africa was destroyed by Muslim invasions.  Presently Islam is again on the rise and flexing its power.

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What insect has such a colorful and fascinating history as the ladybird, also known more popularly as the ladybug? In an age of faith when people saw earth mirroring heaven, this tiny creature was thought to enjoy the special protection of the Virgin Mary. Reversing its role in the past two centuries, this small symbol of Our Lady burst into prominence as a protector of people and their food supply. As the enemy of aphids, the ladybird has rendered service calculated in the billions of dollars in the past century alone. We have good reason to be grateful for this little beetle and to the Lady for whom it is named.

A Problem of Infestation

Agricultural specialists first became interested in the ladybug when California orange groves were mercilessly attacked by a voracious insect pest in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Already in 1880, agricultural experts discovered that a parasitic insect was infesting some orange trees in California’s Santa Clara Valley. The infestation was known locally as “San Jose scale.” Eventually it was traced to the flowering peach trees imported from China. These trees were infected with tiny sap-sucking insects until then unknown in the western world.

The deadly visitor insect from Asia found the orange trees a delicious victim and spread quickly. They multiplied so rapidly that they became a mortal threat to the citrus industry in all of California. By 1893, horticulturalists were occasionally finding specimens along the Atlantic seaboard. Five years later the havoc wreaked by these aphids was so grave that the German emperor forbade the importation of American fruits and living plants. […]

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Immaculate Mary and Bernadette Soubirous

In these months we are honoring two special vocations in God’s plan of salvation—the immaculately conceived Virgin Mary and one of her special protégés, Bernadette Soubirous.

The solemnity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8, and honors the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, without original sin. February 11 is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the date of the first appearance of Our Lady to Bernadette. April 16 is the feast day of St. Bernadette.

In 2008 we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin’s apparitions at Lourdes, where she identified herself to St. Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception. In 2004 we observed the 150th anniversary of Bl. Pope Pius IX’s solemn definition of this dogma on December 8, 1854. Bl. Pius IX explained that Mary was preserved from original sin by a “singular grace and privilege” given her by God “in view of the merits of Jesus Christ,” Redeemer of the human race. Mary, like every other human being, needed the redemptive benefits of Christ. But in anticipation of what God did for all through Christ, she alone was preserved from original sin “from the first moment of her conception.” As one writer asserted, hers was a “redemption by exemption.” By her Immaculate Conception she was conceived in the fullness of grace, in the state of closest possible union with God in view of her future role as the Mother of the Redeemer. […]

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With her head tilted to the right, her hazel eyes are cast downward in an expression of gentleness and concern. The mantle covering her head and shoulders is turquoise, studded with gold stars and bordered in gold. Her hair is jet black and her complexion is olive. She stands alone, her hands clasped in prayer, an angel at her feet.

We have all seen her image. She is Our Lady of Guadalupe, a life-sized portrayal of the Virgin Mary as she appeared in 1531 on the cactus-cloth tilma, or cape, of St. Juan Diego, an Aztec peasant and devout convert. This happened merely a dozen years after  Hernan Cortes had conquered the land that is now Mexico for the monarchy of Spain. Almost five centuries later the colors of that portrait have remained as vibrant as if painted this year. The coarse, woven, cactus cloth shows no signs of fading or deterioration, although that type of material seldom lasts 20 years.

Today the image is preserved behind an impenetrable glass screen in the basilica at Mexico City. Pilgrims can view it from a distance of 25 feet. Each year more than 10 million persons venerate the mysterious image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, making this shrine the most popular in the Catholic world after St. Peter’s Basilica at Vatican City. The Mexican faithful refer to her lovingly as La Morenita. […]

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Since the Second Vatican Council the Church has striven to promote a new and more careful study of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, in order to encourage theological faculties in the pursuit of knowledge, research and piety with regard to Mary of Nazareth. The Mother of the Lord is understood as a “datum of revelation” and a “maternal presence” always operative in the life of the Church. (1)

The history of theological reflection witnesses to the Church’s faith and attention to the Virgin Mary and her mission in the history of salvation. Especially is this evident in the Western Church. (2) […]

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Like Wife, Like Husband

Published on March 12, 2005 by in Marian Devotion

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When asked by someone about the dignity of St. Joseph in Christian tradition, the late Father Francis L. Filas, S.J., the United State’s leading authority on the subject, responded simply, “Like wife, like husband. The man closest to Jesus and Mary rightly deserves all honor and praise.”

St. Joseph rarely enjoys great press. Usually he is forgotten, or at least left standing obscurely in the background. His self-effacement seems to have influenced the scant attention given him by many Church teachers.

In a hymn honoring the Holy Eucharist, St. Thomas Aquinas describes the inadequacy of human language to express full appreciation of the Blessed Sacrament. St. Bernard and other great devotees of Mary voiced the same idea regarding our Blessed Mother. I think we may say the same about St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and the virgin father of Jesus. […]

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Among the religious and cultural factors that influence converts to enter into full communion with the Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary holds particular prominence. Yet she is not the possession of the Catholic Church solely, for many Protestant Churches are rediscovering the presence and role of Mary in life’s pilgrimage of faith.

Before embracing Catholicism John Henry Newman, probably the most famous convert in the last two centuries, formulated an explanation of the development of doctrines in the Catholic Church, especially the Marian doctrines. He explained that the saving truths of revelation were not given by God in timeless and static expressions, but through dynamic and life-giving truths which continue to unfold and develop. In An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine Newman wrote, “Growth is the only evidence of Life.” Ideas live in our minds and continually enlarge into fuller development. “In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” […]

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The year 2004 marks the sesquicentennial of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854. To celebrate the centenary of the infallible proclamation of this dogma of faith, Pope Pius XII, a great apostle of Mary, declared 1954 a Marian Year, the first one.

In 1858 Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France. When Bernadette asked the beautiful lady who she was, Mary identified herself in these words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This happened four short years after the solemn definition. For the centenary of that miraculous event, the Marian-minded Pope Pius XII pronounced 1958 the Lourdes Year.

Though belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception never wavered among the truly faithful, for centuries theologians were at a loss to explain adequately and with satisfactory doctrinal clarity this privilege accorded the Mother of Christ. Then in “the greatest of centuries” a humble and brilliant friar brought resolution to this knotty question: how was Mary, who was like all human beings in need of redemption, conceived without sin?
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