Friday, April 29, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 2

A Theological Definition: The Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why of Mary Coredemptrix 

           What exactly does it mean, then, to say that Mary is Coredemptrix of the human race? The answer to this rather broad question may be discovered by examining it through the lens of the six “journalistic questions” (who, what, when, where, how, and why – the order is varied from the usual sequence to fit the logical flow of this study) that many writers use to organize and analyze complicated subject matter. Each question will illuminate different aspects of Mary as Coredemptrix so that, in the end, the entire picture of this splendid Marian role will come into focus.

Who Is Mary Coredemptrix?

          The foundations of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix of the human race lie in who she is as a person. Often, people’s actions, what they do, spring from who they are as individuals, and Mary is no exception to this tendency. So, then, who is Mary Coredemptrix? Mary herself answered this question during an apparition to St. Bernadette at Lourdes. “I am the Immaculate Conception,” she proclaimed. (3) St. Maximilian Kolbe, whom Pope John Paul II called the “Apostle of the New Marian Era,” spent nearly his entire life contemplating Mary’s mysterious declaration. (4) He concludes that Mary, as the sinless Immaculata, is “the most perfect of all creatures…the most sublime…” (5) Further, “from the first instant of her existence there never was in her the least conflict with God’s will.” She has been sinless from the moment of her conception, pure, clean, and totally united with the will of God. What God wants, Mary wants. What God ordains, Mary accepts. What God does, Mary imitates. She is God’s “perfect masterpiece,” the height of creation, the only boast of the human race. (6) Kolbe continues his analysis, noting that Mary, as the Immaculate Conception, is the spouse, the instrument, and the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, Whom Kolbe recognizes as the uncreated Immaculate Conception, the “flowering of the love of the Father and the Son.” (7) Because Mary exists in a perfect, spousal, “interior union” with the Spirit, she can take His Name, Immaculate Conception, as her own. (8) In terms of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix, her Immaculate Conception, which was raised to the level of dogma by Pius IX in the 1854 document Ineffabilis Deus and confirmed by Vatican II in #56 of Lumen Gentium, (9) specially prepared Mary her unique collaboration in the Redemption of the human race. Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins explains, “…Mary’s cooperation with God’s plan for our salvation actually began with Mary’s Immaculate Conception. He created her full of grace precisely in view of the role which He had predestined for her.” (10) Mary’s unique fullness of grace, her immaculate nature, is an integral, indeed the integral, part of who she is as a person, and it supplies a crucial foundation for the coredemptive activity the Lord asked her to fulfill throughout her life.
          This Immaculate Conception, this fullness of grace, also prepared Mary to assume another of her principal personal characteristics, namely, her motherhood. Most mothers would say that their motherhood is not so much a task they perform as a facet of who they are, and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, God-made-Man, would certainly agree. In giving her consent to the Incarnation of the Word of God, Mary became a mother, and as all mothers, she never stopped being one. (11) Her motherhood became ingrained in her very being, and, as many Mariologists and theologians maintain, it provided an additional foundation for her coredemptive activity. For instance, Rev. Stefano Maria Manelli remarks, “…the Coredemption and the spiritual Maternity imply each other...[Mary] is Coredemptrix because she is our Mother”; Mary’s maternity is “a redemptive Maternity, entirely aimed at ‘restoring supernatural life to souls.’” (12) Mary, as mother of the Redeemer, participates in a special, intimate way in the Redemption won by her Son. It is her nature and right as a mother to be active in what her Child does, and in this case, what her Child does is “ransom back” the entire human race. (13) Mary, the Coredemptrix, works beside her Son, as only a mother can, to assist Him, support Him, cooperate with Him, and suffer with Him, not because she is strictly necessary to His work but because she is His mother, and that is what mothers do. (14) Once again, who Mary is as a person, as a mother, is the foundation for what she does as Coredemptrix.

3. H.M. Manteau-Bonamy, Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: The Marian Teachings of St. Maximilian Kolbe (Libertyville, Ill.: Marytown Press, 2001), 5.
4. Ibid., xxvi, 6.
5. Ibid., 162.
6. Mark I. Miravalle, “In Battle Array with the Coredemptirx,” in Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations III, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 41; Scott Hahn, “She Gave the Word,” in Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations III, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 171.
7. Manteau-Bonamy, 3, 4, 5.
8. Ibid., 4.
9. Miravalle, Introduction, 69; Vatican II Council, “Lumen Gentium,” in The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery (Northport, N.Y.: Costello Publishing Company; Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1998), 415.
10. Arthur B. Calkins, “The Proposed Marian Dogma: The ‘What’ and the ‘Why,’” in Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations III, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 27.
10. Miravalle, Introduction, 52.
11. Stefano Maria Manelli, “Mary Coredemptrix in Sacred Scripture,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 67.
12. Mark I. Miravalle, “Mary, Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Foundational Presence in Divine Revelation,” in Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 257.
13 Richard Gribble, “The Coredemptrix, the Cross, and Contemporary Society,” in Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations III, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 95; Bertrand de Margerie, “Can the Church Define Dogmatically the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary? Objections and Answers,” in Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 193, 203; Mark I. Miravalle, “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-Redemptrix (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing, 2003, 9.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 1

Since the month of May, the month specially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, is just around the corner, I will begin posting a series on Mary as Coredemptrix. Each post will be a section from an academic paper I wrote for the class "Mary in the Modern World" taught by Dr. Mark Miravalle at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Please feel free to comment or ask questions, but most of all enjoy learning about our Mother Mary, who loves all of us as her daughters and sons.

Mary Coremptrix

          From the earliest days of Christianity, Mary of Nazareth, Mother of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, perpetual Virgin, immaculately conceived, and assumed body and soul into Heaven, has won the hearts of the Christian people. (1) She has been the object of countless prayers and devotions, theological reflections, spiritual meditations, and artistic creations. Christians have constantly turned to her for guidance, protection, and love, identifying her as their beloved Mother and counting on her to unite them ever more closely with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many of these devout clients of Mary, however, do not realize or understand the vital role their Mother plays in attaining and distributing the graces of their salvation. Indeed, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium have all clearly identified Mary as the Maternal Mediatrix who cooperates intimately yet subordinately with her Son both in uniting humanity to God and in acquiring and dispensing redemptive graces to the human family. She does so through three specific subsidiary roles, Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate. (2) This study will examine the first of these roles, Coredemptrix, in order to 1. offer a theological definition of Coredemptrix; 2. analyze Scriptural evidence revealing Mary as the Coredemptrix; 3. summarize the presentation and development of Mary Coredemptrix in Sacred Tradition; and 4. explore the copious teaching on Mary Coredemptrix provided by the ordinary Magisterium, or teaching office, of the Catholic Church. Ultimately, a deeper and richer understanding of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix should lead Christians, and ideally all human beings, to an ever greater love and gratitude towards their Mother, who with her Son, Jesus, obtained for them their eternal salvation.

1. Mark I. Miravalle, Introduction to Mary (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing, 2006), 51. Note: The four points listed here refer to the four Marian dogmas, Mary, Mother of God; Mary’s perpetual virginity; the Immaculate Conception; and the Assumption, each of which was solemnly defined by an ecumenical council or ex cathedra by the Holy Father.
2. Mark I. Miravalle, introduction to Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), x; Arthur Burton Calkins, “Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate in the Contemporary Roman Liturgy,” in Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 45.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Joy

The Lord is Risen! Rejoice! Alleluia!

Joy is a prominent theme in our Easter celebration, as it should be. Jesus has risen from the dead! He has conquered the enemy. He is alive, and He brings us a life more abundant than we can ever imagine, an actual participation in the divine life of the Blessed Trinity. He has opened for us the gates of Heaven, where we can be with Him, and with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.

But are we joyful? Does our behavior reflect the gratitude we should have toward our risen King who has given us such wonderful gifts through His passion, death, and resurrection?

We often find our joy dimmed or even extinguished by the cares of life, our everyday trials, and our burdens of sorrow. We focus our attention on our pain, frustration, or exhaustion when we should be concentrating on our risen Lord and letting Him fill our hearts with the joy that overwhelms our troubles.

Jesus, You are risen! We thank You for this joyful Easter day. Please increase our joy throughout this Easter season and beyond so that we may joyfully live and share our faith in You, our risen Lord and King.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday Mini-Meditation

The world waits in silence. Jesus has died on the cross. He has been wrapped in burial clothes and laid in the tomb. The stone has been rolled across the entrance of the tomb and a guard set before it. Jesus' females disciples stay for a while at the tomb and then leave to keep the sabbath. The disciples mourn in shock and terrible sadness. And the world waits in silence.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Mini-Meditation

“Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” During today's reading of the Passion of Jesus from the Gospel of St. John, those words fell to the congregation to recite. I don't like to say them. I don't like to put myself in the place of the chief priests and guards, who were the original speakers of those horrible words. But, as Father said in his homily today, our sins are truly what crucified Jesus. When we sin, our actions yell “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”

Dear Jesus, please forgive us for the times when we have crucified You by our sins. Please help us to remember the gravity and horror of sin so that we may think before we act and not hurt You any more. Amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday Mini-Meditation

“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” Jesus had just finished washing his disciples' feet when he said these words. He had risen from supper, interrupting His meal and time of relaxation. He had removed his outer garments, symbolically making Himself vulnerable to his disciples. He had tied a towel around His waste, assuming the position of a servant. He had poured water into a basin, bent down, washed His disciples' feet, and dried them with the towel. This job wasn't performed by just any servant; it was the task of the lowest ranking servant in the household, the one who got all the dirtiest jobs. Yet Jesus stooped to do it. He even said that it was necessary, telling the resistant Peter that unless he allows Jesus to wash his feet, he would have no inheritance with Him. These are pretty strong words. Peter must accept Jesus' gift with a grateful heart even if he doesn't understand it. When Jesus had finished, He removed the towel, put His outer garment back on, resumed His place at the table, and asked His disciples if they realized what He had done for them. The answer, of course, was “no,” so He told them clearly in the words quoted at the beginning of this reflection.

“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” What must we do then? We must rise from our suppers to serve other people. We must give up some of our comforts and pleasures to put the needs of others first. We must make ourselves vulnerable to others, even at the risk that they might not understand or like us. We must assume the position of a servant towards others and take care of them tenderly without complaining. We must sometimes be willing to become the lowest of the low in the world's eyes so that we may reach the heights of Heaven. We must be willing to do the dirtiest of jobs when such things are required of us. We must stoop down to others in order to raise them up to God. Finally, we must realize and gratefully accept the the wonderful gifts that our Lord gives us, especially in the Eucharist, where He once again stoops down to us each and every day, making Himself vulnerable, as He gives us His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday - A Prayer

Dearest Jesus, Judas betrayed You for thirty pieces of silver. Please forgive us when we have placed money or possessions or power ahead of You. Please lead us and guide us so that we never betray You again by sins of greed and pride.

Dearest Jesus, You told Your apostles that You wanted to celebrate the Passover with them. You still long to celebrate the Passover with us, only today that Passover is the Paschal Mystery in which You give us Your own Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Please give us the desire to celebrate the Eucharist and an appreciation for the intimacy we find when we receive You into our bodies and into our hearts. 

Dearest Jesus, the apostles were deeply distressed when You told them that one of them would betray You. Please give us deep distress at the thought of sinning against You so that we may never lose Your sanctifying grace.

Dearest Jesus, Judas called You "Rabbi" while the other apostles called You "Lord". Please help us to recognize You for Who You really are and maintain the highest level of reverence even in the midst of our intimacy with You.

Dearest Jesus, on the night before You died, You delighted in giving us the gift of Yourself in the Eucharist. Please prepare our hearts to receive You frequently and worthily, and please transform us from the inside out through Your amazing love.

Dearest Jesus, Peter vehemently promised You that he would rather die than deny You, yet, as You predicted, he denied You three times, only to feel great remorse afterward. Please give us the strength, Lord, not to deny You, and if in our weakness, we do deny You, please grant us remorse, repentance, and forgiveness.

Dearest Jesus, You experienced great agony in the garden while Your apostles slept, leaving You to suffer alone. Please give us the grace to watch with You during Holy Week so that we may not undergo the test and succumb to the temptation to flee from You in our suffering.

Dearest Jesus, You prayed for Your Father's will to be done. May Your will always be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Dearest Jesus, even as Judas was betraying You, You called him "Friend." Please help us to remember the great love that You have for all of us no matter what kind of choices we make.

Dearest Jesus, throughout Your arrest and trial, You remained silent and did not resist, no matter how badly You were insulted and abused. Please guide us to imitate You in accepting our trials and sufferings and to offer them to You in union with Your Passion for the salvation of souls.

Dearest Jesus, false witnesses rose up against You, misunderstanding Your words and actions and accusing You of all kinds of horrible things. Please help us to properly understand and defend You in all situations.

Dearest Jesus, You proclaimed that Your persecutors would see "the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven." Please help us to remember that You are indeed seated at the right hand of the Father and will come again to take us to be with You forever.

Dearest Jesus, Judas repented when he realized the horror of the betrayal he committed, but he turned to despair and killed himself. Please prevent us from falling into despair but encourage us to run to You with broken hearts when we sin, ask for Your forgiveness, and be certain that we will receive it.

Dearest Jesus, the crowd called for Barabbas' release instead of Your release. Please keep us from putting anyone ahead of You in our affections; please grant us the grace of always choosing You before all others.

Dearest Jesus, when the soldiers mocked You and placed a crown of thorns on Your head, You sat quietly, loving them even through Your pain. Please help us to remember Your great love.

Dearest Jesus, You died for love of us. Please increase our love for You.

Dearest Jesus, after You died, Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Your dear Body in linen and laid You in his own tomb. Please inspire us to give You all that we have and all that we are.

Dearest Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat, faithfully facing Your tomb. Please give us the faith and the patience to watch and wait for You always.

Dearest Jesus, a seal and a guard were set at Your tomb, but that didn't prevent You from rising from the dead, for Your divine power is greater than we can ever fathom. Please guide us as we journey through Holy Week to the joy of Easter, when we can look upon You, our Risen Lord, with great joy and love.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Case of the Missing Grandfather

Every genealogist runs headlong into one now and then...a brick wall, one so high and so thick that it seems insurmountable. My current brick wall is my great-great-great-great grandfather Purdy.

I'm the kind of genealogist who strives to know as much as possible about my ancestors and their families. Names and dates are important, but I want to know how the people of the past actually lived, who they were as individuals, and the historical context in which they often struggled to survive. For me, details like that turn genealogy into family history.

But then we have old Grandpa Purdy. I can't find hide nor hair of him anywhere, nothing, not even his first name. I know quite a bit about his son, Leander Vandamon Purdy, who was born in Indiana in 1847. Apparently his mysterious father died when Leander was quite young because in the 1850 federal census, Leander's mother, Rachel Thompson Purdy, was already remarried to William Welch (or Welsh or McWelsh – genealogists often have to sort through multiple name spellings; it can get very confusing sometimes). William probably raised Leander like a son, and certainly he would have been the only father Leander would've known, which is probably while the name of Leander's biological father has not been passed down through the generations. Leander even took the last name Welch in most records from his childhood.

Sometime between 1857 and 1860, William, Rachel, and their little family, which now included more children, moved to Texas County, Missouri. William served in the Civil War. I'm still looking for details about his service, but as far as I can tell, he was a member of Company B, 6th Missouri Cavalry, USA. It surprises me that William served for the Union because he was born in Alabama. Leander, who was a teenager during the war would have taken over the role of “man of the house” and cared for his mother and siblings.

By 1865, Leander had turned 18 and must have decided that he wanted a piece of the action. Even though the war was nearly over, Leander joined Murphy's Pulaski and Texas Counties Volunteer Missouri Militia. The militia's task? To round up the Confederate guerrillas who were hiding out in the Ozark hills. The Confederates may have officially lost the war as of April 9, 1865, but the guerrillas weren't ready to give up...not by a long shot. I've always wondered if Leander and his comrades came across traces of such famous guerrillas as the Younger brothers. In any case, their job would have been quite dangerous.

By 1870, things seem to have settled down for Leander and his family. That year's census shows Leander living away from his family, only two farm places over, and working as a farm laborer for physician Francis Wentworth. By the time of his military service, Leander had taken back the Purdy name. He must have at least known who his biological father was. Too bad he didn't pass the information down to me!

Leander married Nancy Ann Killman in October of 1870, and they had eight children, one of which was my great-great grandfather Alfred Purdy. Leander died in 1901 and is buried in McCann Cemetery at Fort Leonard Wood, Pulaski County, Missouri.

I'm sure that Leander's father's story is probably as interesting as that of his son. Perhaps some day I'll know; in the mean time, I'll keep searching and trying to climb over my genealogical brick wall.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fifth Sunday of Lent - Reading Reflections

In his book On Hope, Josef Pieper defines hope as “a steadfast turning toward the true fulfillment of man's nature, that is toward good, [which] has its source in the reality of grace in man and is directed toward supernatural happiness in God.” Hope is also, as Dr. Regis Martin teaches, a supernatural habit, a habit of soul, located in the will by which we confidently and trustfully expect and aspire to what God has promised. In hope, we lean towards God, holding fast to Jesus' promise that He will prepare a place for us, a place where we can be with Him and in Him for all eternity.

Hope runs through today's readings like a thread, tying them together and binding us firmly to Jesus as we reflect on and pray these beautiful texts.

The first reading (Ezekiel 37:12-14) begins with an amazing promise. God says through the prophet, “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.” This promise follows a vision in which Ezekiel sees a valley full of dried bones and, at God's command, prophesies to the bones until they once again come together, are filled with the breath, or Spirit, of God, and become living beings. God then promises to do the same for the Israelite people. He will rescue them from their graves, from the “death” and dryness and brokenness of their exile in Babylon, and bring them home to the land of Israel. Further, He will place His own Spirit within them so that they may live and know Him. This message must have given the people great hope, for they would have realized that God had not forgotten them in the midst of their oppression and fear. They now had a promise to cling to, a promise that encouraged them to turn towards God and confidently expect Him to fulfill His word, which He does, first in bringing them back to Israel at the end of the exile and then in bringing them into the new Israel, the Kingdom of God, through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

The theme of hope continues in Psalm 130. The Psalmist confidently looks toward God, crying out from the depths of his sin and misery, begging God to hear his prayers. He acknowledges that no one who is sinful can stand before God, but he places his hope in God's mercy and forgiveness, in His kindness and redemption. He trusts in God and in His word, believing that God will come through for His people as surely as the sun will rise. Turning toward the goodness He sees in God, He confidently expects that God will be everything His has shown Himself to be and then some.

In the second reading (Romans 8:8-11), Paul speaks of the great hope that Christians must have when the Spirit of Christ dwells in them. They can and must hope that God will one day raise their mortal bodies as He raised Christ from the dead. They can and must cling to this promise, for if Christ is in them, “although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

Finally, the Gospel reading (John 11:1-45) is filled with the hope of Jesus, Who tells Martha and us, “I am the resurrection and the life;whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” Then He gives us a visible confirmation of His words when, for the glory of God, He raises Lazarus from the dead. Even though Lazarus, like all of us, will once again taste bodily death, Jesus has shown us here that death cannot hold those who believe in Him, those who trust Him, those who hope in Him, holding firmly to His promise that one day they will reach their ultimate fulfillment, eternal life with Him.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weekly Bookworm: The Rosary

In his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, John Paul II writes:

“The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness....The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayerof Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer. ”

While this quote in itself offers sufficient reasons for all Catholics to increase their devotion to the Rosary, many Catholics either don't know how to begin or can't seem to deepen their experience of this fundamental, Scriptural, Catholic prayer. What follows is a list of books that I've found helpful through my years of daily Rosary.

1. The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort – This is a classic work that offers a history of the Rosary, a catalog of its benefits and wonders, and a introduction to its methods. While this is a beautiful book, it might see a little strange to the modern sensibility, so reader will need to let go of some of their presuppositions and let St. Louis speak for himself as he describes the intricacies of the prayer he so loves.

2. The Rosary: The Life of Jesus and Mary by Bob and Penny Lord – EWTN hosts Bob and Penny Lord offer meditations on the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries of the Rosary in this book, which also features photographs of the Rosary-themed altar paintings at the Basilica of the Rosary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. There are a few theological inaccuracies in this book, and the faulty grammar and punctuation drive me crazy, but overall the book provides some lovely reflections on the Rosary.

3. Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the Beads by Kevin Orlin Johnson – Dr. Johnson carefully analyzes every aspect of the Rosary in this scholarly book, which goes into depth on its history, prayers, and meditations. This isn't an easy read, but it is well worth the effort and will enhance the reader's experience of the Rosary.

4. 101 Inspirational Stories of the Rosary by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC – This book contains just what its title says, 101 inspirational stories submitted by people from around the world who have experienced the Rosary in deep and sometimes miraculous ways. Appendices contain instructions on how to pray the Rosary, meditations on the mysteries, and the full text of John Paul II's Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Lent – First Reading Reflections

We can look at today's first reading, 1 Samuel 1b, 6-7, 10-13a, on several different levels using an interpretive technique called typology. Typology looks for, and usually finds, prefigurations of Christ, the Church, the sacraments, Christian life, and Heaven in the Old Testament (and for the last four, in the New Testament as well). God's plan of salvation (or divine economy) is revealed gradually throughout history, and typology discovers the unity of this salvific plan as it explores the relationships between different parts of the Biblical canon.

Let's apply this to our reading. On the literary-historical level of the text, we have a story about the anointing of David by Samuel. This is very important in itself. Typology does not dismiss or diminish the literary-historical significance of the text; instead, it shows us deeper and broader meanings in the Bible. So we have Samuel, sent by God to anoint a new king from the sons of Jesse. He took a look at the oldest boy, Eliab, and thought he was just right for the job. God, however, did not, for He could see into Eliab's heart while Samuel merely saw Eliab's splendid outward appearance. Samuel went through each of Jesse's seven eldest sons in this manner without finding the new king. Finally, probably near desperation, Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons hiding anywhere. Jesse remarked that there was still the youngest boy who was off tending the sheep. Samuel sent for him, and when the young David arrived, God told Samuel, “There – anoint him, for this is the one!” Jesse and his other seven sons were probably shocked to see Samuel anoint this young boy. Anointing was a powerful act in the Old Testament. Only priests, prophets, and kings were anointed in this way, so Samuel's gesture indicated that David was to become at least one of these. In fact, David became all three throughout his life. We see by this reading, then, that God does not chose as man does; He goes beyond appearance and judges based on the heart. This in itself is a very valuable lesson.

We can move deeper into the meaning of the reading, however, by using typology. We can, for instance, see David as a type or prefiguration of Jesus. Like David, Jesus would probably have been voted “least likely to be king” for most of His life. He was a carpenter, the son of Joseph and Mary as far as anyone knew, and a resident of a small, insignificant village. Also like David, Jesus was anointed, only for Jesus, that happened at his baptism, and it was accomplished not by a prophet like Samuel but by the Holy Spirit. Jesus' anointing also revealed Him as Priest, Prophet, and King. Jesus, the Son of David, as He is often called, certainly surpassed His ancestor, but typology shows us the links between them and helps us see the unity of God's plan of salvation.

Let's take our typological reading one step further. Like David and Jesus, Christians are also anointed, both at baptism and at confirmation. Each and every one of us shares in Jesus' priesthood, prophetic office, and kingship. We are all anointed, set apart, and marked as priests, prophets, and kings! That's pretty amazing, really. All baptized Christians have been anointed with oil, just like David was anointed by Samuel, and we have been anointed with the Holy Spirit, too, following in the footsteps of Jesus.

This little exercise in typological interpretation hardly scratches the surface of today's first reading, but it does show how typology can enrich our exploration of the Bible and help us reach new insights into God's plan for our salvation and His great love for us.