On Mary Being Sinless

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While I was in the process of becoming Catholic, one common objection from my Protestant friends was Mary being sinless. I’ve been thinking about this particular doctrine more often lately as I try to be more devoted to my spiritual mother.

My friends protested this doctrine because no one but Christ is supposed to be said to be sinless. Everyone is supposed to need the saving grace of Christ, and if Mary was sinless, then she was exempt from this. I think they mistakenly believe that Church teaches that Mary was sinless by her own will. But I know that it is not so.

Mary was not chosen to bear Christ because she was sinless. She was sinless because she was chosen. In other words, it was still Christ who saved her from sin. If she had not been the one that God wanted to bear the savior of the world, I doubt that she would have been protected from the blemish of sin. It was not her will that allowed her to be sinless and remain so her whole life. It was the grace of God, knowing that she would bear the Son of God, that saved her from sin. It all still depends on Christ  and he is still therefore Mary’s savior as well. There is no contradiction to salvation through Christ in this Marian doctrine.

It is taking me awhile to become comfortable with Marian devotion because I still sometimes find myself thinking of her like I did before I converted. But as I think more and more about what the Church says about Mary, I realize more and more that these things are true and make sense. I learn more and more how lovely it is to have a spiritual mother who looks out for all of her children. I realize more and more that she is a wonderful example of living a pure, modest, and holy life. And I realize more and more that if I am to be like Christ I must be like him in all aspects of life, and that includes honoring his mother, Mary.

Thoughts from the Little Flower

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Life is not sad; it is very joyous. If you say, “This exile is sad,” I understand you. We are wrong to give the name “life” to something which will end; it is only to the things of Heaven that we should apply this beautiful name.

There is only one who can understand love, and that is our Jesus. He alone can give us infinitely more than we can ever give Him.

Jesus more and more desires a throne of gold, and this throne is your pure heart.

Do not fear. If you are faithful in pleasing Jesus in little things, He will be obliged to help you in the greater things.

Passion of the Christ

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I just finished watching The Passion of the Christ. I’ve put it off because I had heard how bloody it was, but then I decided I needed to get past my squeamish discomfort with the barbaric Roman death penalty. And I think everyone should watch it at least once. I’ve always tried to imagine what Christ went through once Judas had betrayed him and the Pharisees had him in their custody, but never did my imagination get that detailed. And never had the severity of my sins, and what was necessary to forgive them, hit me like that. I cried for pretty much the entire movie and just kept thinking “this is all my fault!” I don’t think I will ever look at my sins quite the same way any longer. Before it was easy for me to say, “Yeah, I sinned. But it wasn’t that bad. Could have been worse.” But now I realize that it doesn’t matter what the sin is. The cost to Christ was and is the same for all sins. Whether the film is 100% accurate, I’m not sure. But it sure gets the point across. Who else has watched this movie and what was your reaction?

Oh petitions

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I read recently in the school paper that there is a petition going around to have chick-fil-a removed from campus. Since I attend a very liberal school this is not really all that surprising. I merely rolled my eyes and sighed upon this reading this. What did surprise me though is that as of right now it looks like the school will not be giving in. They are, for the time being, holding the stance that chick-fil-a has done nothing illegal. They don’t discriminate in their food services and there are no real grounds for removing their business from our student union cafeteria. Considering just how liberal my school is (eg. the student government is backing voting no to the proposed MN marriage amendment and has allied with MN united for all families) I was surprised that the school officials don’t want to cave to the pressure. We’ll see I guess how long that holds up if the petitioners put on enough pressure. But for now, I’m proud of the powers who be who are not going to punish a business for holding controversial views of marriage.

7 Quick Takes Friday: Quote Edition

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So, I’m not very good at doing the quick takes thing. I think I’ve done it a total of 3 times since I started this blog in October. This week should be easy. I’m just going to share 7 quotes about faith, life, the Church, etc that really speak to me this week. Here it goes.

#1

When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now.

~Mother Teresa of Calcutta

#2

Fly from bad companions as from the bite of a poisonous snake. If you keep good companions, I can assure you that you will one day rejoice with the blessed in Heaven; whereas if you keep with those who are bad, you will become bad yourself, and you will be in danger of losing your soul.

~St. John Bosco

#3

For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.

~St. Teresa of Avila

#4

The sickness of a family member, friend or neighbor is a call to Christians to demonstrate true compassion, that gentle and persevering sharing in another’s pain.

~Pope John Paul II

#5

A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader. If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security.

~Samuel Adams

#6

We live in a culture in which condoms can be handed out in schools and Bibles can’t. And I think that tells you everything you need to know about our society.

~Janet Smith, Contraception, Why Not?

#7

The Holy Bible is like a mirror before our mind’s eye. In it we see our inner face. From the Scriptures we can learn our spiritual deformities and beauties. And there too we discover the progress we are making and how far we are from perfection.

~Pope St. Gregory

Daily Surrender

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Today, I attended Elegate 2012. It was an amazing experience. In some ways it reminded me of my Protestant roots. A large group of young adults singing loudly, praising God, and listening to a talk meant to lift and inspire us all. It made me feel more comfortable. It made me truly realize that there are young Catholics who are just as fired up about their faiths as my Protestant brothers and sisters, despite the popular belief to the contrary. I knew that before, but now I have seen it demonstrated in a way to which my friends would be able to relate. And it was wonderful. Also, the young priest that was the speaker told us a little about his background and it was very similar in many ways to the stories of a few former pastors of mine. He spent his high school and early college years getting into trouble. Drinking too much, drugs, the “party scene,” stealing. Until he had a radical encounter with the forgiveness of God at confession (and this is where the similarities end) at a retreat that he was talked into going to by an older lady at his parents’ church. Up until this point, most of the priests I met had either not shared their stories or had been born Catholic and lived the faith faithfully, surprising no one when they decided to enter the priesthood. It’s nice to see that pastors of the Catholic faith are as varied as those of the Protestant faith.

But, more importantly, there were lessons for me to learn from the night about my faith. The priest spoke about surrendering to God daily, a reminder that I needed very much. I have, on more than one occasion, surrendered my will to God’s (eg. becoming Catholic even when it would have been easier to say no), but I don’t do it often enough. I have an occasional “life changing” experience that stops me in my tracks and turns me back to God’s will, sort of. But then I call it good. And I don’t think about it again until the next life changing experience. But I should be surrendering daily. I should wake up in the morning and say, “God, I don’t know what you have in store for me today, but I’m ready and willing to go where you tell me, to do what you want me to.” I should not only be surrendering to God in the big things in life (eg. career and family), but in the little things to.

For example, as you know, I gave up Facebook recently. My intentions were in the right place. I wanted to stop distracting myself from God and give Him more time in my day, the time that I used to spend on Facebook. But I’ll be honest, that’s not quite how it’s gone. True, I don’t waste time on Facebook now. Instead, I browse pinterest, catch up on blogs, read books that I have been dying to read, find random chores to do around the house. None of these are inherently bad, but I filled up the hole in my day that Facebook left with more things rather than giving that time to God as I should have, much like the priest’s seminarian friend that he told us about. This man left his lucrative career, broke up  with his girl friend, and abandoned all his plans to follow God’s call. But while in seminary he filled the hole these big things left in his life with smaller things, like new ipads and smartphones, rather than filling it completely with God. He came to his senses and repented. I want to do the same. It is my goal here on out to surrender daily. Hourly. However often is necessary to stay on God’s track, not my own. I won’t always be successful, but I hope to improve greatly and to recognize when I fail.

I will try to share more of the lessons I learned tonight soon. But this will have to do for now. Peace and blessings!