Why Catholics are leaving the faith by age 10 – and what parents can do about it (By Matt Hadro of CNA)
Young Catholics are leaving the faith at an early age – sometimes before the age of 10 – and their reasons are deeper than being “bored at Mass,” the author of a new report claims.
“Those that are leaving for no religion – and a pretty big component of them saying they are atheist or agnostic – it turns out that when you probe a bit more deeply and you allow them to talk in their own words, that they are bringing up things that are related to science and a need for evidence and a need for proof,” said Dr. Mark Gray, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
“It’s almost a crisis in faith,” he told CNA. “In the whole concept of faith, this is a generation that is struggling with faith in ways that we haven’t seen in previous generations.”
Gray recently published the results of two national studies by CARA – which conducts social science research about the Church -- in the publication Our Sunday Visitor. One of the surveys was of those who were raised Catholic but no longer identified as Catholic, ages 15 to 25. The second survey was of self-identified Catholics age 18 and over.
In exploring why young Catholics were choosing to leave the faith, he noted “an emerging profile” of youth who say they find the faith “incompatible with what they are learning in high school or at the university level.” In a perceived battle between the Catholic Church and science, the Church is losing.
And it is losing Catholics at a young age. “The interviews with youth and young adults who had left the Catholic Faith revealed that the typical age for this decision to leave was made at 13,” Gray wrote. “Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed, 63 percent, said they stopped being Catholic between the ages of 10 and 17. Another 23 percent say they left the Faith before the age of 10.”
Of those who had left the faith, “only 13 percent said they were ever likely to return to the Catholic Church,” Gray wrote. And “absent any big changes in their life,” he said to CNA, they “are probably not coming back.”
The most common reason given for leaving the Catholic faith, by one in five respondents, was they stopped believing in God or religion. This was evidence of a “desire among some of them for proof, for evidence of what they’re learning about their religion and about God,” Gray said.
It’s a trend in the popular culture to see atheism as “smart” and the faith as “a fairy tale,” he said.
“And I think the Church needs to come to terms with this as an issue of popular culture,” he continued. “I think the Church perhaps needs to better address its history and its relationship to science.”
One reason for this might be the compartmentalization of faith and education, where youth may go to Mass once a week but spend the rest of their week learning how the faith is “dumb,” he noted.
In contrast, if students are taught evolution and the Big Bang theory at the same school where they learn religion, and they are taught by people with religious convictions, then “you’re kind of shown that there’s not conflicts between those, and you understand the Church and Church history and its relationship to science,” he said.
With previous generations who learned about both faith and science as part of a curriculum, that education “helped them a lot in dealing with these bigger questions,” he explained, “and not seeing conflict between religion and science.”
Fr. Matthew Schneider, LC, who worked in youth ministry for four years, emphasized that faith and science must be presented to young people in harmony with each other.
A challenge, he explained, is teaching how “faith and science relate” through philosophy and theology. While science deals only with “what is observable and measurable,” he said, “the world needs something non-physical as its origin, and that’s how to understand God along with science.”
“It was the Christian faith that was the birthplace of science,” he continued. “There’s not a contradiction” between faith and science, “but it’s understanding each one in their own realms.”
How can parents raise their children to stay in the faith? Fr. Schneider cited research by Christian Smith, a professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame, who concluded that a combination of three factors produces an 80 percent retention rate among young Catholics.
If they have a “weekly activity” like catechesis, Bible study or youth group; if they have adults at the parish who are not their parents and who they can talk to about the faith; and if they have “deep spiritual experiences,” they have a much higher likelihood of remaining Catholic, Fr. Schneider said.
More parents need to be aware of their children’s’ beliefs, Dr. Gray noted, as many parents don’t even know that their children may not profess to be Catholic.
The Church is “very open” to science, he emphasized, noting the affiliation of non-Catholic scientists with the Pontifical Academy of Science, including physicist Stephen Hawking.
There is “no real conflict” between faith and science, Gray said.
“The Church has been steadily balancing matters of faith and reason since St. Augustine’s work in the fifth century,” he wrote.
“Yet, the Church has a chance to keep more of the young Catholics being baptized now if it can do more to correct the historical myths about the Church in regards to science,” he added, “and continue to highlight its support for the sciences, which were, for the most part, an initial product of the work done in Catholic universities hundreds of years ago.”
(Reposted from CNA)
This is what is said in Matthew 16:18.
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”(Matthew 16:18, NRSV)
Why did St. Matthew use these two words in the same verse? Petra was a customary word for “rock” in Greek. St. Matthew was translating, he could have used petra for “rock.” Yet, there would have been a problem. Petra is a feminine noun. It would have been inappropriate to address Peter Petra.
It follows that when St. Matthew was translating, he would have used petra for “rock.” However, in so doing, he would have encountered a problem. Petra is a feminine noun. It would have been improper to call Peter Petra. This would be equivalent to calling a male. in English. Hence, petros was used instead of petra for Peter’s name.
Think About This!
My name is Bernard which can also be translated as Bernardo. I am male so you will not call me Bernarda since it is feminine.
The author cannot use Petra incorrectly since this can cause embarrassment to the person.
Yet, it is beside the point. The actual conversation is in Aramaic. Simon became kephas in Aramaic.
In St. John 1:42, the Aramaic translation of Simon’s new name, Kephas means “rock.” Let us say that Anti-Catholics are correct and Peter was only a “little stone” (petros). In that case, the Aramaic word should have been “evna” and not “kephas.”
“Kephas” (John 1:42 and Matthew 16:18) comes from the Aramaic word כיפה “kefa” (Classic Galilean spelling is כיפא or in Syriac ܟܐܦܐ).
The word for Peter, kefa’, is the same word for rock. If the words are compared, Peter is the rock.
In said verse, the same word is used for his name ܟܐܦܐ “Kefa” and what our Lord said he would build His Church upon ܟܐܦܐ .
In Galilean Aramaic of Matthew 16:18, the only likely possibility is a play on words between כיפה “kefah” or “rock” and the verb בני “bne” which means “to build” and puns with אבן “eben”. I would reconstruct this passage as:
את כיפה ועל הדן אבנה אבני כנישתה
“at kefah, w‘al hadən əvnah əvney kništah”
You are Kefa, and upon this rock, I will build my church.
You can see the progression: Kefah (rock) to əvnah (rock/build) to əvney (I will build).
This is what is written in Greek text of Matthew 16:18.
“κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, καὶ πύλαι ἅ|δου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς. “(Matthew 16:18, Greek New Testament)
Let us analyze this deeply
καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃͅ τῇ πέτρᾳ. The καί is a connective conjunction. It must be translated as “and.” If used with the dative, ἐπί it can be taken in a spatial, temporal, or causal sense. A spatial understanding is more appropriate and the word may be defined as “on, upon”. The object of ἐπί should be described as πέτρα.
The ταύτη (“this”) refers to πέτρα. The use of the article τῇ with the demonstrative pronoun ταύτη, which is in the predicate form, shows attributive function. So, the phrase may be translated as such: “and upon this rock.” The word πέτρα means “rock, stone”; plainly and refers to the rock out of which a tomb is constructed. in the LXX, πέτρα can be used to signify the following: a. “rock or cliff” (Exod 17:6; Ps 80:16); b. place-name or geographical note, The word is mentioned 15 times in the New Testament ; nine of those are in the Gospels while five of the fifteen can be read in Matthew. Only in Matt 16:18 are πέτρα and Πέτρος used in the same verse.
The greek word Petros was not an exact synonym of petra since it was translated literally as “a stone.” Jesus in a play on words switched petra when He turned from Peter’s name to what it signified for the church. There is no logical reason to think that Jesus changed from petros to petra to show that he did not refer to Peter but of his acknowledgment as the foundation of the church. The words “on this rock [petra]” refer to Peter due to the revelation he received and the confession (for which he would use ekeinος) that it motivated in him. Peter was appointed by Jesus to establish the foundation of the future church.
The word πέτρα is feminine in the Greek and has a feminine ending (-α). The New Testament opted for a Greek word with masculine ending (-ος) for the apostle: Πέτρος.There is no basic difference between πέτρα and Πέτρος, even though πέτρα meant “live rock” and Πέτρος, a “detached stone.” The distinction was not observed precisely.
The reason of Jose Ventilacion is if we say Peter is the Rock, there are two rocks since only Christ is the rock according to 1 Corinthians 3:11?
It is true that there are several cases of God the Father being referred to as “rock” (Deuteronomy 32: 4 15, 1 Samuel 2:2, Psalms 18:31 Isaiah 30:29) and Jesus being described as “rock” or “foundation” in the NT (1 Corinthians 3:11, 10:4). Nonetheless, that does not essentially mean that Jesus calls himself (or the Father) as the “rock” of Matthew 16:18. Matthew 16 talks about the theme of Jesus’ identity, but verses. 17-19 focuses mainly on Peter and his statements about the identity of. It will appear that the πέτρα of v. 18 either refers to the man.
Likewise, in v. 17, Jesus refers to the apostle as “Simon”. In v. 18, Jesus expressly refers to Simon as Peter which is the nickname he gave this apostle. If Peter is not being referred to, why would Jesus intentionally use a word that almost copied the apostle’s name? if this is the only place in the New Testament wherein πέτρα and Πέτρος are used in the same verse, it is hard to think that Jesus was not somehow referring to Peter.
Why can’t women be Catholic Priests?
Should women have important positions in companies and governments? Absolutely! God has given women many important roles in history. Some men are better at home than women; why shouldn’t they stay home? Probably they should. The Church has no objection.
In their closing message of the Second Vatican Council, the council fathers expressed an urgent plea for women to accept God’s call:
The hour is coming, in fact, has come, when the vocation of woman is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women impregnated with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.
(Vatican II, Closing Speech, December 8, 1965 )
The Church declared Mary the most important human being of all time. The Mother of God is a woman. The Catholic Church has put more attention on Mary than any other denomination.
Pope Francis has called for a “deeper theoplogy” for women.
“Nobody can be a better priest than Our Lady, and she remained only the handmaiden of the Lord.”
Mother Teresa to an Indian journalist, 1984
The Church has no authority to ordain women
When it comes to the ordination of women the Church has to approach this question the same way it approaches every other important decision; with prayer, the Bible, the Tradition of the Church and the wisdom of theologians. The Church wants to know what God has to say about this, and She (the theological pronoun for the Church) believes God has an opinion on this. Pope John Paul II has said:
“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
Some may say the Pope was old, chauvinistic and conservative. Although he was old, it would be a difficult to say he was chauvinistic given that he has canonized more women than all the other Popes in history combined. He named St. Thérèse of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church (only the third in history), and declared Sister Faustina a Saint, with a special feast day to celebrate the Divine Mercy.
Many traditionalist Catholics wanted to throw the Pope out because he was “too liberal”. This is a good argument against the charge that he leaned too far right. He also consistently stood up for women’s rights in every instance where they did not interfere with the primary right to life.
His position on this issue was not about discriminating against women, but rather it is about following God’s wish for the Church. Other denominations have discerned differently in order to stay “relevant” to our culture. They honestly thought that ordaining women would bring modern women back to Church. They are now on the brink of extinction (United, Anglican, Methodist, etc.).
There are those who argue that the Pope did not declare this from the Chair of Peter and therefore the statement was not “infallibly” made. It is clear that the Pope intended it as a teaching statement on morals, and he made it binding on the whole Church. The Magisterium also stood behind him and there is 2000 years of unity among the Bishops on this. This has all the qualities of an “infallible” statement. At the very least, it is highly unlikely that this will change in the next century. There are many theological reasons why the Church believes God has chosen a male priesthood. Those who argue that it isn’t tend to be the same crowd who would like to see same sex marriage and contraception accepted also.
One of the main reasons the Church has this position that Jesus himself chose 12 male apostles. There were many women available that He could have chosen, but He only chose 12 males. There were several strong candidates, including his own mother who is recognized as the holiest of all human beings.
Was Jesus only following the conventions of the time?
Some have said that the conventions of the time dictated that only men should have positions of power and therefore Jesus followed the conventions of the time (John 5:1-18). That statement is problematic because Jesus was very quick to break social conventions. For instance, He healed a woman on the Sabbath. He spoke with the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-42; 8:3-11), which was forbidden to Jews. He dined with tax collectors, He welcomed a Mary Magdalene, from whom He cast out 7 demons, as one of his best followers and revealed his risen body to her first, He freed the woman caught in adultery from being stoned, He said the Roman soldier (a gentile) was more faithful than anyone among the people of Judea, and so on. So Jesus was clearly not afraid to break the conventions of his time. In fact, He was crucified because of that.
Another thing to consider is that there were women performing similar roles to a priest in other religions, at the time of Jesus so it would be inaccurate to say there was no historical precedence. Fr. Mateo writes:
… the lands around the Mediterranean teemed with religions with priestesses. The famed Vestal Virgins of Rome were priestesses. There was a priestess functioning at Delphi. The Sybil was a priestess and the many temple prostitutes were priestesses.
Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church is the Bride, the priest represents Christ
The overarching theme in Scripture is the Bride and Bridegroom. The Bible opens with the marriage of Adam and Eve, and closes with the marriage of Christ and his Church (Rev. 21:9-10). Ephesians 5:22-33 compares the union of husband and wife to that of Christ and the church (see also John 3:29). We find this matrimonial language in the Old Testament also, where the people of Israel are the bride and God is the groom (e.g., Isaiah 54:5, 62:5, Jer 3:14). Many of the early Christians and Saints confirmed this relationship including Ambrose of Milan, Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179),Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), Gertrude the Great, John of the Cross, etc… In these analogies Jesus is always the groom, male, and the Church is always the bride, female.
The priest represents Christ “In persona Christi” when administering the Sacraments, and as such is the groom, which is male
In persona Christi – a Latin phrase meaning “in the person of Christ” – is an important theological concept which refers to the action of a bishop or priest while celebrating a sacrament. The priest acts in the person of Christ in the pronouncing of the words of the sacramental rite. There are essential moments in the rites where the priest’s words and gestures confect the sacrament.
These words are spoken in persona Christi capitis. Two examples include, “This is my body” and “This is my blood” during the transubstantiation of the Eucharist. This is also true during reconciliation when the priest says, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” It is interesting that most advocates of a woman priesthood don’t believe in transubstantiation, or in absolution, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a priesthood.
Early Church Fathers speak against women’s ordination
St. Epiphanius, Against Heresies 79. 304 wrote: “If women were ordained to be priests for God or to do anything canonical in the church, it should rather have been given to Mary… . She was not even entrusted with baptizing… Although there is an order of deaconesses in the church, yet they are not appointed to function as priests, or for any administration of this kind, but so that provision may be made for the propriety of the female sex…
In 49. 2-3 St. Epiphanius tells of the Cataphrygians, a heretical sect related to the Montanists. The Cataphrygians pretended that a woman named Quintillia or Priscilla had seen Christ visiting her in a dream at Pepuza, and sharing her bed. He took the appearance of a woman and was dressed in white. “Among them women are bishops and priests and they say nothing makes a difference, ‘For in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female’.” [Gal. 3:28]
St. John Chrysostom, in On the Priesthood 2. 2 points out that Jesus said “Feed my sheep” only to Peter. “Many of the subjects could easily do the things I have mentioned, not only men, but also women. But when there is question of the headship of the church… let the entire female sex retire.” And in 3. 9 St. John wrote: “Divine law has excluded women from the sanctuary, but they try to thrust themselves into it.”
Weren’t there women priests in the early Church?
Some authors, such as Mary Ann Rossi and Professor Giorgio Otranto have pointed to Pope St. Gelasius (circa 494 AD) who wrote a letter of discipline to an area that was allowing women to serve at the altar. Ms. Rossi claims this proves precedence of female priests. This is not much different from situations today where the Magisterium has had to step in when people try to take liberties with the Eucharist. Nor is it different from when Saint Paul stepped in to correct mistakes in the administration of the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:23-29).
This in no way indicates that the Church accepted women priests. This was never accepted by the Church and even the most militant advocates of female priesthood have not found one magisterial document supporting their position. In his Epistle 14: 26, March 11, 494 AD, Pope Gelasius addresses a very specific area, Lucania, Bruttium, and Sicilia, which clearly demonstrates the limited nature of this abuse. The Pope cites earlier magisterial declarations against women at the altar.
There was never an accepted order of female priests. This is a myth put forth by those who would like to undermine the Magisterium, and who would like to bring about what they call the French Revolution to Catholicism where the common people take the authority from the Magisterium, much like the Reformation of the 1500s, the fruit of which is 33,500 different denominations. The Magisterium is necessary for unity, and Jesus knew that when He gave it full magisterial authority (Mat 16:18).
Was there ever a woman Pope?
This is a myth that was in circulation from the 13th to 17th centuries. It claimed that Pope Joan reigned from 850-870 AD. French Protestant Hugh Blondel (1590-1655) disproved the myth with a scholarly refutation. The legend goes that a woman named Joan impersonated a man so that she could enter the clerical life and rise through the ecclesiastical rank. She eventually became a Pope until one day, while riding a horse, she gave birth to a child and was exposed as a fake, only to be stoned to death by an angry mob. Not even those who were against the papacy in the years around 1000 A.D. make any mention of this. The legend didn’t show up until 300 years after the incident allegedly occurred. It is the equivalent of today’s “urban legends.” No serious secular male or female historian accepts this legend.
The Latin word sacramentum means "a sign of the sacred." The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence. That's what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God's grace.
In summary, a sacrament is one of the means God has chosen to influence our life in the direction of his purpose for giving us life.
Baptism marks the entry of the believer into the Christian community. Along with Confirmation and Eucharist, it is one of the Sacraments of Initiation, giving access to the full sacramental life of the Church. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and joined with Christ, sharing in His divinity and destined for eternal life. Baptism leaves us permanently changed, no longer the person we once were, but a new person, dying to death and sin, and rising to new life in Christ. In the words of St. Paul, "We were buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so too may we live a new life." (Romans 6:4).
The rite consists of pouring water over the head while saying the Trinitarian formula. Anyone can baptize in an emergency, although the usual minister of the sacrament is a priest or deacon. Usually the rite includes anointing the forehead with holy oil to indicate that, even as Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so does the candidate now share in His everlasting life, participating in His glory as a member of His body. The newly baptized then receives a white garment and a candle lit from the paschal candle. Like Christ, who is the light of the world, the newly baptized Christian carries the light of Christ out into the world.
Before Jesus was put to death, He promised His followers that He would send His Spirit to comfort and strengthen them. True to His promise, the Holy Spirit was poured out on them on Pentecost, forty days after His resurrection from the dead. The Sacrament of Confirmation is our own Pentecost. When we are confirmed, we receive the Holy Spirit, through the anointing with oil and the laying on of hands by the bishop or a priest appointed by him.
When we receive this sacred seal we show that we belong to God. By their anointing, the prophets, kings and priests of the Old Testament were elevated to a special position in their service of God. So it is with us when we receive the holy oil on our foreheads; we become part of the priesthood of all believers, witnesses to Christ and heirs to His throne.
The Eucharist is the sacrament in which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. The Church teaches that Christ is really present in the bread and wine that have been consecrated by the priest at Mass. Although the bread and wine still look and taste like bread and wine, the substance, what is actually there, has changed.
The roots of the Eucharist are in the Jewish Passover meal. This is the meal which commemorates Israel's delivery from oppression and slavery in Egypt.
As Jesus celebrated the Passover at his last supper with the apostles, He blessed, broke and shared with them bread and wine, declaring that it was His body and blood. He promised that He would truly be with them when they did likewise and shared bread and wine together in memory of Him.
The Mass is the new Passover, with Jesus offering His own body and blood so that we, His present-day followers, might go free. For this reason, as well as being a sacred meal, the Eucharist is also a link with Jesus' death. When we participate in the Mass together with our fellow believers and receive Him in the Eucharist we take part in the Passover meal which He celebrates now, shedding His blood so that we may be saved.
Reconciliation or Penance
Many of us regret things we have done or fail to do, words we have said or thoughts we have harbored, things we are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit. Sometimes these hidden secrets take on much more importance than they deserve, simply because we keep them bottled up and are unable to speak about them. The Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us the opportunity to express our sorrow for things we have done wrong, to heal broken relationships, to forgive ourselves and others, and to open up the channels of communication between ourselves and God.
Confession is above all a place of healing, not a place of judgment or punishment. When we make our confession to a priest in the confidentiality of the confessional or reconciliation room, we experience healing and liberation, discovering again and again how much we are loved by God, how precious we are to Him, and how great is our dignity as His children. Once he has heard our confession, the priest says the words of absolution for our sins:
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His
Son has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among
us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may
God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins, in
the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
What the penitent makes known to the priest remains "sealed" because the confidentiality of confession is absolute. Nothing said by the penitent in confession will ever be repeated. This is an experience of mercy and reconciliation, where we can lay down the burdens of guilt and shame that we carry with us. No matter what we think of ourselves or of God, we can still be certain that God forgives us, loves us and wants only to heal us.
Anointing of the Sick
"Are any among you sick? Let them call for the elders of the Church to pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick ones, and the Lord will raise them up; and if they have committed any sins, they will be forgiven." (James 5:14-15)
Part of Jesus' ministry was to heal the sick, and He went about curing those who were ill or disabled, showing that suffering and death have no place in the Kingdom of God. By His sacrifice of Himself, He took hold of suffering and death and eliminated their power to separate us from each other or from God. Our faith tells us that, indeed, God suffers with us. Through Jesus' suffering and death, God joins His suffering to the suffering of human beings. And by doing this, He transforms and gives it a new meaning.
Through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick we are assured that God will raise us up, like Jesus, from our bed of pain and sickness and lead us to eternal life.
Through this holy anointing
may the Lord in His love and mercy help you
with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Amen.
As people of God, we all share in the priesthood of Christ, and so the Church speaks meaningfully of "the priesthood of all believers." Each of us is to exercise our priesthood by strengthening and serving one another. Within the Church there are many means of service. One way of service stands out as a sacrament, namely Holy Orders, which ordains the recipient to the office of bishop, priest or deacon.
The priest's special calling is first and foremost to preach the Good News of God's love and humanity. In offering himself as a candidate for the priesthood, he must give evidence of wisdom and spiritual maturity, as he is called to lead the Christian community with patience and kindness. The priest celebrates Mass and administers the Sacraments, taking an active role in offering Christ's gift of Himself.
From earliest times, deacons have had a special place in the pastoral work of the Church, preaching, ministering at baptisms and weddings, and caring for the poor and hungry on behalf of the whole Church. Nowadays, married men are more and more frequently ordained to the diaconate, where they have a strong role in assisting priests and bishops and serving the people.
Finally, bishops are chosen and ordained to supervise and lead priests and deacons, to unify, bless and teach the people and act as a sign of Christ in the local church and community.
All love comes from God, and all love reflects the love that God has for His creation. The Sacrament of Marriage is, first and foremost, a sign and symbol of this love. Marriage is a sacrament of the self-giving love which two people offer to each other. The love which a couple have for each other mirrors the love God has for men and women.
The minister of the Sacrament of Marriage is the couple themselves. The priest serves as a witness.
The joy and mutual support of married love can be a source of strength which enables married people to serve others in a very powerful way. It should spill out to their children and to those around them and become a source of life, hope and comfort for others. This is reflected in the blessing which the priest often gives the newly-married couples, saying:
"May you always bear witness to the love of God in this world, so that the afflicted and the needy will find in you generous friends and welcome you into the joys of Heaven."
ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS AND ALLEGATIONS ABOUT BLACK NAZARENE FESTIVAL (BROUGHT YOU BY I LOVE INA PENAFRANCIA 360 APOLOGETICS)
DEFENDING THE FILIPINO FESTIVAL OF THE BLACK NAZARENE FROM THE MALICIOUS ALLEGATIONS OF OTHER RELIGIOUS GROUP (ANTI-CATHOLIC SECTS) FOR HAVING THIS UNIQUE AND SACRED CATHOLIC TRADITION IN THE PHILIPPINES.
# 1. QUESTION: [ WHAT AND WHO IS NAZARENE?? ]
ANSWER: NAZARENE COMES FROM THE WORD NAZARETH, SITUATED IN ISRAEL:
MATTHEW 2:23 (NASB) and came and lived in a city called NAZARETH. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “HE SHALL BE CALLED A NAZARENE.”
THEN WHO SHALL BE CALLED NAZARENE?
MARK 16:6 (NASB) “ And he *said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for JESUS THE NAZARENE, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.
# 2. QUESTION : [ WHY IS IT COLOR BLACK ?? ]
ANSWER: THERE ARE THREE ANSWERS REGARDING ABOUT THE QUESTION OF WHY IS IT BLACK. 1ST ONE, DUE TO HISTORICAL REASON, THEN THE 2ND ONE IS IN BIBLE. AND THE 3RD ONE IS SIMPLY LOGIC.
1ST: (HISTORICAL REASON)
DURING THE MANILA GALLEON EXPEDITION FROM MEXICO, THE ORIGINAL STATUE IMAGE OF THE BLACK NAZARENE SCULPTED FROM PURE IVORY WAS IN THE SHIP ABOARD, BUT TRAGIC ACCIDENT WAS HAPPENED, THIS SHIP BURNT AND LEAVING OTHER DESTROYED. THAT IS WHY THIS STATUE BECOMES BLACK.
DURING WORLD WAR II THE ORIGINAL ONE THAT MADE FROM IVORY WAS DESTROYED SINCE IT WAS PLACE OUTSIDE INTRAMUROS THAT KEPT BY RECOLLECTS FRIARS CAUGHT IN BOMBING, WHILE THE 2ND REPLICA WAS SPARED IN THE BATTLE IN WWII SINCE IT WAS INSIDE THE QUIAPO CHURCH. DUE TO ANTIQUITY CHURCH HAD MADE ANOTHER REPLICA IN 1998 MADE BY WOOD.
THE NAME OF BEING BLACK NAZARENE, CONJOINT WITH THE WORD “BLACK” SINCE IT WAS CAME FROM THE SHIP THAT WAS BURNT. THUS THE DESCRIPTIVE NAME OF THE SCULPTURE IS THEN TAKEN IT BEING "BLACK" RESULTING FROM THE INCIDENT THAT HAPPENED, THAT IS WHY IT CALLED "BLACK NAZARENE".
2ND: (BIBLICAL REASON)
JOB 30:28-31 (NASB)  “I go about MOURNING WITHOUT COMFORT; I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help.  “I have become a brother to jackals And a companion of ostriches.  “MY SKIN TURNS BLACK ON ME, And my bones burn with fever.
ALTHOUGH THIS PASSAGE IS AN OLD TESTAMENT WHICH IS FAR FROM THE NEW COVENANT, THIS PASSAGE TELLS AND SIGNIFIES ABOUT THE PROPHETIC SUFFERING OF THE SON “JESUS” AS HE MOURNING WITHOUT COMFORT. THEN HIS SKIN TURNS TO BLACK THAT PORTRAYING ON HIS CALVARY DURING THE WALK UNDER THE HEAT OF SUN CARRYING HIS CROSS, WHICH FULFILLMENT FOR THE NEW COVENANT.
3RD: (LOGIC REASON)
RIZAL STATUE IS ALSO BLACK IN THE LUNETA PARK AND MAJORITY OF HIS STATUE IN THE MONUMENT IS COLOR BLACK, THE FACT THAT HE IS NOT BLACK DURING HE LIVES?
WHY IS THAT THE BRONZE STATUE OF FELIX MANALO A FOUNDER OF THE HERETIC CHURCH “IGLESIA NI CRISTO” IS ALSO COLOR BLACK? THE FACT THAT THIS SINFUL FOUNDER IS NOT AS BLACK AS BRONZE COLOR SKIN, BUT A BROWN FAIR SKIN.
ANOTHER THING, IS THERE A COLOR THAT BECAME RED?, WHITE? OR EVEN BLUE AFTER IT WAS BURNT BY ACCIDENT?
# 3. QUESTION: [ WHY IS THAT PEOPLE HAVE HANDKERCHIEF OR SMALL TOWEL IN THE FEAST THAT CARRIED TOUCHED UPON THE STATUE BODY?? ]
ANSWER: IT'S A MATTER OF CULTURE , AS A MATTER OF FACT, CATHOLICS IN EUROPE, AMERICAS AND OTHER CATHOLIC COUNTRIES, NEVER DO THIS CUSTOM AS CATHOLIC FILIPINO ALWAYS DID OF TOUCHING ONES OBJECT USING WITH HANDKERCHIEF OR JUST BY HAND. IT IS JUST A MATTER OF FILIPINO CULTURE BY BELIEVING THAT THERE HAS A MIRACLE IN THE HANDKERCHIEFS, CLOTHES THAT HAS CARRIED TOUCHED IN THE RELIGIOUS OBJECTS (STATUES, IMAGES, ETC.).
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG ABOUT TOUCHING RELIGIOUS OBJECTS USING WITH OF HANDKERCHIEFS, LIKE THE STATUE OF THE BLACK NAZARENE. SINCE THE BIBLICAL TIMES TOUCHING ONES BODY USING A SMALL CLOTHE, HANDKERCHIEFS IS BEING DONE TO JESUS AND ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE.
MIRACLE OF ST. PAUL BY TOUCHING FROM HIS BODY:
ACTS 19:12 (NASB) “God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,  so that HANDKERCHIEFS or aprons were even CARRIED FROM HIS BODY TO THE SICK, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.
BIBLE TELLS, THE HANDKERCHIEFS HAS CARRIED TOUCHED ON THE BODY OF APOSTLE ST. PAUL, THUS THIS HANDKERCHIEFS DOES A MIRACLE FOR PUTTING OFF THE DISEASES OUT IN ORDER TO GET WELL.
MIRACLE OF JESUS BY TOUCHING FROM HIS CLOAK:
MARK 5:27-28 (NASB)  after hearing about JESUS, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak.  For she thought, “IF I JUST TOUCH HIS GARMENTS, I WILL GET WELL.”
MATTHEW 9:21 (NIV) She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
NOT JUST TOUCHING TO JESUS USING EITHER CLOTH OR BY HANDS BUT ALSO TO HIS CLOAK HAVE ALSO MIRACLE. SAME AS CATHOLICS DURING THE PROCESSION OF BLACK NAZARENE. BUT IT IS NOT ONLY BASIS FOR THE GETTING OFF THE DISEASES BY THIS MIRACLE, OR WISHES TO BE ASK. MIRACLE WILL NOT WORK WITHOUT FAITH AND DEEP BELIEF IN YOUR HEART TO JESUS, AS WE READ THE FOLLOWING VERSE:
MATTHEW 9:22 (NIV) Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your FAITH HAS HEALED YOU.” And the WOMAN WAS HEALED at that moment.
# 4 QUESTION: [ WHY IS THAT THE FEAST OF THE BLACK NAZARENE IS OVERCROWDED? ]
ANSWER: BECAUSE THE HUGE CROWD OF FILIPINOS AROUND THE STATUE OF JESUS THE NAZARENE DURING THE PROCESSION FESTIVAL MAKING A WAY TO PASS THROUGH THE CROWDING PEOPLE JUST TO APPROACH THE STATUE FOR THE MIRACLE OF HEALING, WISHES TO COME TRUE, AND BLESSINGS FOR YEAR LONG.
SAME AS JESUS. EVEN HIM, HE EXPERIENCED THIS CROWDING PEOPLE AROUND HIM:
MARK 5:30-31 (NEW AMERICAN BIBLE REVISED EDITION)  Immediately JESUS, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the CROWD and said, “Who touched My garments?”  But his disciples said to him, “You see how the CROWD IS PRESSING UPON YOU, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
# 5. QUESTION: [ WHY DID YOU PRACTICE PROCESSION? ]
ANSWER: EVEN DURING BIBLICAL TIMES, PROCESSIONING IS ALSO A PART OF RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES OF THE JEWS.
1 CHRONICLES 15:14-15 (NEW AMERICAN BIBLE REVISED EDITION)  Accordingly, the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel.  The Levites CARRIED THE ARK OF GOD ON THEIR SHOULDERS WITH POLES, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
JOSHUA 6:6-7 (NAB)  Summoning the priests, Joshua, son of Nun, said to them, “TAKE UP THE ARK OF THE COVENANT with seven of the priests carrying ram’s horns in front of the ark of the Lord.”  And HE ORDERED THE PEOPLE, “PROCEED AND SURROUND THE CITY, with the picked troops MARCHING AHEAD OF THE ARK OF THE LORD.”
VERY CLEAR, THEY TOOK UP THE ARK OF THE LORD, THEY CARRIED IT AROUND THE CITY AS THEY WALKING (MARCH). SAME AS THE CATHOLIC PROCESSIONING DURING FESTIVAL, IT HAS A STATUE CARRIED BY MEN AND WALKING THROUGHOUT THE CITY.
NOTE: THE “ARK OF THE LORD” OR WHAT WE CALLED THE “ARK OF THE COVENANT” HAS STATUES OF CHERUBIM ATTACHED OVER IT:
1 CHRONICLES 28:18 (NEW AMERICAN BIBLE REVISED EDITION) “the refined gold, and its weight, to be used for the altar of incense; and, finally, gold to fashion the chariot: THE CHERUBIM SPREADING THEIR WINGS AND COVERING THE ARK OF THE COVENANT of the Lord.
THAT IS WHY JEWS CARRYING THE ARK OF THE LORD THAT HAS STATUE PLACED OVER THE TOP, AS IT COVERS THE ARK. SAME AS CATHOLICS PROCESSION OF STATUE OF JESUS NAZARENE.
# 6. QUESTION: [ STATUE PROCESSIONING MEANS ALSO WORSHIPING ON IT?? ]
ANSWER: NO, THAT IS A COMMON MISCONCEPTION BY THE NON CATHOLICS (OTHER RELIGIOUS DENOMINATION OUTSIDE CATHOLIC CHURCH). THE TRUTH IS WHAT WE (CATHOLICS) DID IS NOT AN ACT OF WORSHIP. BY PROCESSIONING THE WOODEN STATUE OF BLACK NAZARENE REPRESENTS JESUS VICTORY WHEN HE DIED AT THE CROSS TO DEFEAT THE EVIL :
HEBREWS 2:14 (New American Bible Revised Edition) “Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that THROUGH DEATH HE MIGHT DESTROY the one who has THE POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL,”
COLOSSIANS 2:15 (Good News Translation) “And on that cross Christ freed himself from the power of the spiritual rulers and authorities; he made a PUBLIC SPECTACLE of them by leading them as captives in HIS VICTORY PROCESSION”
THAT IS WHY WE CATHOLICS HAVE A PROCESSION OF JESUS THE NAZARENE FOR HIS VICTORY OVER EVIL, AND NOT FOR WORSHIPING THIS ENGRAVED OBJECT.
SAME AS THE SOLDIERS PARADING STREETS AFTER THE WAR PROCLAIMING THAT THEY ARE VICTORIOUS.
# 7. QUESTION: [ WHY IS THAT IT BECAME A MIRACULOUS STATUE IMAGE ??]
ANSWER: WE WILL APPLY THE OLD TESTAMENT. EVEN THE BIBLICAL TIMES, MOSES MADE A STATUE IMAGE OF SERPENT THAT WHENEVER PERSON LOOKED AT THIS BRONZE SERPENT WILL RECOVERED OR LIVED.
NUMBERS 21:9 (NASB) “And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when HE LOOKED TO THE BRONZE SERPENT, HE LIVED.”
SAME AS THE CATHOLIC PROCESSION OF THE BLACK NAZARENE STATUE BELIEVING THAT ONES GET CLOSE INTO HIS STATUE TOUCHING IT WILL BE HEALED AND OR WISHES BE BLESSED TO COME TRUE.
BUT ONCE AGAIN, MIRACLES DOES’T EFFECT WITHOUT FAITH AND DEEP BELIEF IN YOUR HEART TO JESUS:
MATTHEW 9:22 (NIV)  Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your FAITH HAS HEALED YOU.” And the WOMAN WAS HEALED at that moment.
# 8. QUESTION: [WHY DID YOU PRACTICING THIS FESTIVAL OF THE BLACK NAZARENE AS TRADITION??]
ANSWER: BECAUSE THE APOSTLES TELLS US ABOUT TRADITIONS OF MAN SHOULD BE HOLD WHETHER TAUGHT BY MOUTH (like Church fathers who made this feast) OR FROM THE SCRIPTURES:
2 THESSALONIANS 2:15 (NASB) "So then, brethren, stand firm and HOLD TO THE TRADITIONS which you were taught, WHETHER BY WORD OF MOUTH or by letter from us. "
1 CORINTHIANS 11:2 (NASB) "Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and HOLD FIRMLY TO THE TRADITIONS just as I delivered them to you."
THUS WE HAVE TO MAKE OUR TRADITION FOR FAITH, TO WORK FOR FAITH AND TO SHOW IT, AND WHY? BECAUSE FAITH WITHOUT WORK IS USELESS:
JAMES 2:18 (NASB) But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I WILL SHOW YOU MY FAITH BY MY WORKS."
JAMES 2:26 (NASB) For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD.
# 9. QUESTION: [WHY ARE CROWD WALKING IN BAREFOOT AS THEY FOLLOW THE PROCESSION?? ]
ANSWER: EVEN THE BIBLICAL TIMES, GOD INSTRUCTS MOSES TO REMOVE HIS SANDALS AS HE APPROACH TO HIM:
EXODUS 3:5 (NASB)  So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”  When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”  Then He said, “Do not come near here; REMOVE YOUR SANDALS FROM YOUR FEET, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
THAT IS WHY CATHOLIC DEVOTEES HAVE A CUSTOM WHEN THEY APPROACHED TO THE STATUE OF THE BLACK NAZARENE THEY ARE ALL IN BAREFOOT WITHOUT ANY SHOES OR SANDALS.
# 10 QUESTION: [ WHY ARE THERE TOO MANY COMPLAINTS AND COMMENTS FROM THE "IGLESIA NI CRISTO" THE "ANG DATING DAAN", "BORN AGAIN" AND OTHER ANTI-CATHOLICS THAT COMPLAIN AGAINST THIS CELEBRATIONS? ]
ANSWER: WE WOULD APPLY THE SCRIPTURES WHEN LEVI CELEBRATED THE FEAST FOR THE LORD JESUS, THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES ALSO COMPLAINED.
LUKE 5:30 (NASB)  The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”
WE HEAR COMPLAINTS AND COMMENTS FROM ANTI-CATHOLICS WHENEVER WE CELEBRATE THE FEASTS, LIKE THE FEAST OF THE BLACK NAZARENE, FEAST OF STO. NIÑO, AND OTHER FEASTS TO DEVOTE TO THE LORD.
THIS IS BECAUSE THEY FEEL SO JEALOUS OF THE FESTIVAL LIKE THE FEAST OF THE BLACK NAZARENE AND STO. NIÑO AS WE CATHOLICS ARE BAD IN THEIR EYES.
PROVERBS 15:15 (NASB) “All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.”
OBJECTION # 1
[ itong gawi na ito, HINDI binanggit sa biblia na magkaroon ng Fiesta ng Hesus nazareno. Pati mga Apostol HINDI ITO TINURO ang Fiestang ito. Kahit si Hesus HINDI ITO INUTOS. ]
(English: this custom DID NOT MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE to have this festival of Jesus the Nazarene. and apostle DID NOT TAUGHT for this feast, even Jesus NEVER COMMAND THIS. ]
RESPONSE: AS A MATTER OF FACT, GOD HIMSELF ALLOWED A FEAST. HE LET THE PEOPLE TO CELEBRATE THEIR OWN FEAST:
NAHUM 1:15 (NASB)
"Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces PEACE! CELEBRATE YOUR FEASTS, O Judah; Pay your vows. For never again will the wicked one pass through you; He is cut off completely. "
SEE? GOD ALLOWED THAT, SO WHAT MORE TO CATHOLICS? SO IF GOD ALLOWED A FEAST, THEN HAVING CATHOLIC FESTIVAL IS ALSO ALLOWED OF WHATEVER FESTIVAL IT IS, AS LONG AS FOR THE FAITH AND FOR THE LORD. THAT IS WHY EVEN JEWS ALSO MADE CUSTOM THEMSELVES TO CELEBRATE THEIR OWN FEAST:
ESTHER 9:27 (NASB) the Jews established and MADE A CUSTOM FOR THEMSELVES and for their descendants and for all those who allied themselves with them, so that they would not fail to celebrate these two days according to their regulation and according to their appointed time annually.
ESTHER 9:20-21 (NIV)  Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far,  TO HAVE THEM CELEBRATE ANNUALLY the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Ada.”
ESTHER 9:17 (NASB) "This was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested AND MADE IT A DAY OF FEASTING AND REJOICING."
ESTHER 9:31 (NASB) to establish these days of Purim at their appointed times, just as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had established for them, and just as THEY HAD ESTABLISHED FOR THEMSELVES and for their descendants with instructions for their times of fasting and their lamentations.
SEE? THUS THERE IS NOTHING WRONG TO MAKE A CUSTOM OF SOME FESTIVALS LIKE FEAST OF THE BLACK NAZARENE, FEAST OF STO. NIñO AND ETC. SINCE JEWS ALSO MADE THEIR OWN FESTIVAL FOR THEMSELVES.
OBJECTION # 2
[ sa biblia, HINDI negrong Nazareno at mga kung ano ano pang mga santo rebulto ang pinoprosisyon ng mga Judio nuon, kundi ang kaban ng tipan at cherubim. ]
(English: as it was written in the bible that ark of the lord with cherubim are the one that processioning by the Jews, and NOT the statue of the black Nazarene and such others Saints statues. )
WE HAVE TO USE OUR COMMON SENSE. DON’T LIMIT THE UNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE JEWS DID IT ALONE. SINCE JEWS PRACTICING PROCESSION OF THE ARK OF THE LORD THAT HAS STATUE OF CHERUBIM ATTACHED OVER IT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, (1 CHRONICLES 15:14-15), (JOSHUA 6:6-7)
SO THAT, THE CHRISTIANS SHOULD ALSO DO THE SAME, BUT IN A CHRISTIAN WAY, WHICH THE STATUES OF JESUS, MARY, THE APOSTLES, AND MARTYRED SAINTS SHOULD BE USED AND REPLACE THE JEWISH STATUE OF CHERUBIM IN OLD TESTAMENT. AND WHY? FOR THE PURPOSE OF REMINDING CHRISTIAN PEOPLE HAVE DEPARTED & MARTYRED FOR FAITH.
THUS THE PROCESSION OF THE ARK OF THE LORD WITH CHERUBIM IS FOR THE JEWS. THEN THE PROCESSION OF STATUES IMAGES OF JESUS, MARY, AND SAINTS IS FOR CHRISTIANS. SO THERE SHOULD BE NO ISSUE THERE SINCE CHRISTIANS ARE DOMINANTLY CAME FROM JEWS CONVERTS, THAT IS WHY TRADITIONS FROM JEWS AS IT WRITTEN IN THE BIBLE BORROWED UP TO POST-APOSTOLIC (EARLY CHRISTIANS YEARS), DOWN TO MODERN CHRISTIAN DAYS, AS CATHOLIC.
BLACK NAZARENE FESTIVAL IS THE UNIQUE ICON OF FILIPINO CATHOLICISM IN THE PHILIPPINES, ALSO THIS CUSTOMS MAKING THE PHILIPPINES DISTINCT AMONG OTHER CATHOLIC COUNTRIES FOR THIS UNIQUE TRADITION OF OVERCROWDING DEVOTEE DURING PROCESSION ATTEMPTING TO APPROACH THE STATUE OF BLACK NAZARENE JUST TO TOUCH FOR THE BELIEF THAT THEIR FAMILIES WILL BE HEALED WISHES TO COME TRUE AND BE BLESSED FOR YEAR LONG.
IT IS A MATTER OF TRADITIONAL BELIEF THAT SHOULD BE RESPECT BY OTHER RELIGIOUS SECT.
THUS, SOMEDAY IF YOU SET FOOT IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD AS DIASPORA, OFW, OR IMMIGRANTS. THE SPIRIT OF FILIPINO CATHOLICISM REMAINS IN YOU.
WHEN YOU HAVE SEEN A STATUE OF THE BLACK NAZARENE IN THE OTHER COUNTRY THAT YOU HAVE DESTINED, SURELY THERE ARE FILIPINO RESIDES THERE. AND SURELY IT REMINDS YOU WHERE YOU CAME FROM.
ONE OF THESE YOUNG MEN IS NOW OUR CURRENT CHURCH LEADER, NOT JUST TO CATHOLIC CHURCH BUT IN A WHOLE CHRISTIANITY,
HE IS "POPE FRANCIS"
THESE YOUNG BOYS PREFER TO CHOOSE THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AND TO SERVE GOD’S PEOPLE. THEY ARE UNMARRIED FOR THEM TO DO THINGS FOR THE LORD’S SAKE AND FOR THE LORD’S CHURCH.
1 CORINTHIANS 7:32 (New American Standard Bible)
 But I want you to be free from concern. ONE WHO IS UNMARRIED IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE THINGS OF THE LORD, how he may please the Lord;
MATTHEW 19:12 (Good News Translation)
 For there are different reasons why men cannot marry: some, because they were born that way; others, because men made them that way; AND OTHERS DO NOT MARRY FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Let him who can accept this teaching do so.”
WELCOME HERE IN THE PHILIPPINES POPE FRANCIS
Today we take at look at Scripture, The Church Fathers, and right reason – all of which defend the Divinity of Jesus.
Before explaining to you, my dear friend, Catholic doctrine and practice regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary, let me state two truths that the Church teaches most emphatically: (1) God alone, the Supreme, Infinite Being, must be adored. To adore any creature, however exalted, would be to commit idolatry. It is simply absurd and also grossly unfair to say that Catholics adore Mary. (2) Jesus Christ alone is our Mediator of Redemption. He alone, by his supreme sacrifice, of infinite value, redeemed and ransomed mankind.
What Honor May be Shown to Mary?
If God alone is to be adored, if Christ alone is to be worshiped as our Mediator of Redemption, may any honor be shown to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and, if so, what kind of honor?
There is an innate law engraven on the human heart that dictates that special honor should be shown to creatures who are clothed with a special dignity. Children must honor their parents; servants must revere their masters; soldiers must respect their officers; subjects must show loyalty to their rulers. God himself has, in fact, positively commanded, in his revelation to man, this honor that the natural law prescribes. Our non-Catholic friends, following reason and accepting the teaching of the Bible, cannot but admit this principle or truth. Thus it is as clear as day that, besides the supreme honor that we give God, and which we term adoration, there is an inferior honor that we not only may but must show to all creatures who are clothed with special dignity.
What, then, must be said of our duty of honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose dignity as far transcends that of any other creature as heaven excels earth? . . .
Of all creatures Mary has the unique privilege of adoring her own Child. To Mary alone can God the Son address the sweet title Mother! What a marvelous dignity, then, was conferred on the humble Virgin of Nazareth!
Scripture Teaches Devotion to Mary
I ask you, my dear friend, to read carefully the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, verse 26 to verse 55. It is very hard to understand how any Christian can study this passage and then refuse to honor Mary. Why, the "Hall Mary," which Catholics love to address to the Blessed Virgin, is explicitly given there; part of it was said by the angel Gabriel and part by Elizabeth. The angel was inspired by God and Elizabeth "was filled with the Holy Ghost" (v. 41). Let us put together the words that the angel Gabriel and Elizabeth addressed to Mary: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed are thou among women" (v. 28). "Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." Here we have the salutation that Catholics address to Mary. The only addition we have made are the two names, "Mary" and "Jesus." So that, in saying the Hail, Mary, Catholics are explicitly following the Bible. I shall deal with the second part of this prayer presently.
You will notice, my dear friend, that Mary in that sublime canticle known as the Magnificat, which is recorded by the inspired writer from verse 46 to 55, declared: "Behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" (v. 48). Who, I ask, fulfills this prophecy: those who refuse to apply the adjective blessed to the Virgin Mary, or Catholics, who love to call Mary the Blessed Virgin?
Invocation of Mary
Not only do we honor Mary; we also invoke her or ask her intercession. Some objectors say that we should pray to God alone. Well, Catholics certainly pray directly to God, for they regard the Our Father as the best and most beautiful of all prayers and frequently recite it. But they pray also to Mary, asking her to intercede for them with her divine Son.
Our non-Catholic friends ask one another’s prayers, and in this we praise them. But, if I may say to a sinner on this earth, and he may say to me, another sinner, "Pray for me," for what reason may we not say to the sinless Mother of God enthroned in heaven, "Pray for us"? If St. Paul asked the Romans to "help him in their prayers for him to God" (Rom. 15:16); if he wrote to the Thessalonians, "Pray for us," why may we not ask Mary, who is far holier and nearer to God than the Roman and Thessalonian converts, to "pray for us"? In fact, we read in the Old Testament that God positively commanded Eliphaz and his two friends to go to the holy man Job and seek his intercession: "My servant Job shall pray for you; his face I will accept, that folly be not imputed to you" (Job 42:8).
Therefore Catholics act aright when they say: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."
Statues and Pictures of Mary
But why, someone may ask, do Catholics have statues or pictures of Mary in their churches and homes? Is it not against the first (or second) commandment to make graven images? No, it is against God’s laws to adore images, not to make them; otherwise we should have to abolish all such things as dolls, for are they not "graven images"? And does anyone imagine that it is against the first commandment to make dolls or to give them to children? God even commanded the making of certain images in the Old Law, as we read in various parts of the Old Testament. For instance, he ordered Moses to make two cherubim (angels) of beaten gold (Ex. 25:18).
If non-Catholics approve of the making and erecting of statues of Queen Victoria or King Edward or General MacArthur or Charles Dickens or Roosevelt (and in this we agree with them), how can they possibly see anything objectionable in making a statue of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the King of kings, and putting it in a prominent place? We ask our friends outside the Church to be fair and not to attempt playing "Heads I win, and tails you lose."
As to the custom of lighting candles and placing vases of flowers before the statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin, no person can reasonably object to this practice who would approve of a college boarder plucking flowers, arranging them nicely in vases, and putting them in front of her mother’s photo, which she had placed on the mantelpiece in her room. If the latter is a praiseworthy practice—as every person endowed with reason and affection admits—surely the former custom is equally laudable. Likewise, if a child may laudably kiss the photo of her absent mother, in order to show her love for her (though the child well knows that the photo itself is an inanimate, unresponsive object), so Catholics are worthy of praise when they kiss a picture or statue of Mary in order to express the love they have for the living Queen of Heaven, whom the image represents. . .
Protestant Poets and Devotion to Mary
Devotion to Mary is so beautiful a practice and fits in so harmoniously in the plan of the Christian religion that the Christian soul, untrammelled or untainted by prejudice, instinctively recognizes its truth. I have not infrequently been struck by the fact that Protestant children, who have as yet been given no bias against this devotion, quickly perceive its loveliness and are strongly attracted by it when once they are given even an elementary idea of it. And even more mature non-Catholic children are sometimes at a loss to know why they have been turned against such a sweet, appealing devotion. I once heard a Presbyterian girl of twelve, who had seen a picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel, ask her mother: "Why don’t Protestants honor the Mother of Jesus?"
Poetry helps men to shed prejudice, and so we find certain Protestant poets, in their moments of poetic rapture, writing exquisite things about the Blessed Virgin. The following beautiful lines come from the pen of Wordsworth:
Mother whose virgin bosom was uncrossed
With the least shade of thought to sin allied.
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature’s solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tossed;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses; than unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven’s blue coast.
Longfellow, another non-Catholic poet, has given us a lovely poem:
This is indeed the Blessed Mary’s land!
Virgin and Mother of our dear Redeemer;
All hearts are touched and softened at her name;
Alike the bandit, with the bloody hand,
The priest, the prince, the scholar, and the peasant,
The man of deeds, the visionary dreamer,
Pay homage to her as one ever present!
And even as children who have much offended
A too-indulgent father, in great shame,
Penitent, and yet not daring unattended
To go into his presence, at the gate
Speak with their sister, and confiding wait
Till she goes in before and intercedes;
So men, repenting of their evil deeds,
And yet, not venturing rashly to draw near
With their requests an angry father’s ear,
Offer to her their prayers and their confession,
And she for them in heaven makes intercession.
And if our faith had given us nothing more
Than this example of all womanhood,
So mild, so merciful, so strong, so good,
So patient, peaceful, loyal, loving, pure,
This were enough to prove it higher and truer
Than all the creeds the world had known before.
GMA-7 NEWS ANCHOR MIKE ENRIQUEZ RECOGNIZED THE INTERCESSION OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (TYPHOON RUBY)
The rosary is one of the most cherished prayers of our Catholic Church. Introduced by the Creed, the Our Father, three Hail Marys and the Doxology ("Glory Be"), and concluded with the Salve Regina, the rosary involves the recitation of five decades consisting of the Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and the Doxology. During this recitation, the individual meditates on the saving mysteries of our Lord's life and the faithful witness of our Blessed Mother.
Journeying through the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries of the rosary, the individual brings to mind our Lord's incarnation, moments of divine light or grace, his passion and death and his resurrection from the dead - in fact, the rosary summarizes the entire gospels.
Thus, the rosary helps us in growing in a deeper appreciation of the truths of the gospels, in uniting our life more closely to our Lord and in imploring his assistance to live the faith. And in reciting the Hail Mary, we call on the Virgin Mary our Mother and the Mother of God to pray with us and for us to God even as she constantly guides us to deep faith in her son our Lord and God: "do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5)