I have enclosed something I wrote this morning. In it I quote an article that came after I turned my computer on this morning. It was from Fr. Daniel Meynen, and, the words helped explain my meaning here. I have attempted to including his words by introducing them between my thoughts...
God bless you -- Ron Curley
APOLOGIA : A Short Reflection with Mary on Going beyond the "first things" into the Maturity in Christ God Desires
Fr. Anthony Ron Curley
(ABSTRACT: This paper is a personal reflection that came to mind early this morning. I awoke with Mary and Jesus on my mind, and the role of Mary as an example for the Church in our own eschatological destiny in Christ. Jesus would have us all as the "chaste virgin," in him. This is for our eternal benefit. It is the desire of Mercy Incarnate that we become like the Mother of the Church, liken unto the spouse of the Holy Spirit. It is the desire of God that we love the Beloved One, and that we are loved by him, and love one another as Jesus gave us commandment. This reflection attempts to be my apologia to my separated brothers and sisters in Christ. I have great love and thanks for the work of Father Daniel Meynen, the Belgian priest of our Lord Jesus who continues to allow me to help him in his growing Internet apostolate, Ecclesia on Line / Homily Service).
Often, I find my self awakened early in the morning with a clarity that comes to my mind and heart as I lay in bed wondering whether or not to get up. Sometimes I wonder aloud if the clear thinking I am experiencing would somehow be interrupted, if I suddenly shake the sleep off and attempt to write what was on my mind down on paper. This written response is the fruit of what was on my mind early this morning, and it comes on the heals of an article that was sent to me by my beloved priest, Father Daniel Meynen, that helped clarify what are my thoughts on this subject.
The epistle of St. Paul to the Galatian Church says: "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba Father!" So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir." (Galatians 4:4-7).
What kind of loving words are these, beloved of God? I sense their heart directed spiritual sense of these words of Paul within my very innermost being, as they share with us the desire of God toward you and me.
The fulness of time, born of a woman, a Son, God, under the law. . . adoption. We are no longer slaves. What profound statements. And, these statements surround us with the context of Mary, the woman to whom Jesus was born so that you and I might receive the adoption as sons, (children of God through faith in Christ Jesus). How profound. We can repeat it several different ways, and it still cannot fully impact upon our hearts as it must for us to have that "maturity" into the fullness of all that we have in Christ and in this context of Mary.
So many of my separated brothers and sisters do not understand this issue of Mary and her relationship with her Son, Jesus. There is so much that has been said of "sola Christus." It is true, that Christ alone who is our Savior. Yet, there is a dimension we might come to understand in Christ our Savior and Lord, this issue of being linked into the communion of saints, the living reality of the Church. There is the dimension of Mary.
We are linked in such a manner as to allow us to cry out with the Holy Spirit, "Abba! Father!," a term made more clear to me when I was growing up through the preaching and pastoral ministry of Dr. J. Vernon McGee. We hear ourselves saying with the Holy Spirit, "My Daddy, Father." It is like we learn to say -- "My Dad, My Father." It is a close relationship. It passes beyond the mere initial familiarity. It runs deep within the soul. It is a term of endearment and deep love, when we come to know Our Father in more deeply the Way than when we first began in Jesus. Our Mother also helps us in this, just as our own godly mothers in the flesh helped us to see God, when we were little, if we were so blessed to have godly mothers. There are many in Christendom who do not experience this "Abba! Father!" reality.
I think often of Jesus on the Cross with John and Mary standing below. A precious passage relates something profound that happened when Jesus spoke to Mary and John in John's Gospel account. The soldiers had divides the clothes of Jesus between them. But, his tunic was seamless, and the soldiers cast lots for it. Can you imaging Mary seeing this, standing there with John? Is it possible to imaging the "sword" that pierced her heart when this happened? I believe we know just a little about this because Mary and John recorded it for us to see today. For, Jesus, having given all, yes ALL, was hanging there before Mary and John and all of us, crucified, without a thing on the earth, bleeding and bruised and battered beyond all recognition as a human being. It was this Son of God, this Son of Mary, this Brother of John, who said, "when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.' " And, then, he said to John, the disciple he spoke to, "Behold your mother." And we are told in this narrative that from that very hour, the disciple, John, took Mary into his home. (John 19:23-37).
How easily I passed over this passage when I was a separated brother in Christ. Following the statements of Jesus to Mary and John, Jesus cried out, "It is finished," handing over his Spirit. St. John speaks further of this conferral of the Holy Spirit in his Gospel. (Cf.. John 7:39 and 20:22).
Yet, there is a deeper sense here that is often missed, as we focus upon the blood and the water that flows from the spear wound that pierced the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I think and ponder over the Body of Jesus and where it came from. This Body of Jesus that was there on the Cross was out of Mary's womb. Jesus, her Son, was the Word who became flesh and blood. There in the womb of Mary, God became the Man through the flesh and blood of Mary's womb. What an Identification with us, beloved of God. Who can fully comprehend the Virgin Birth and the Incarnation of God with men, the reality of Immanuel? Annually, we come to Advent, repeat the words, and do they really stick within our hearts securely. God became Man through Mary, the Mother of our Lord. Yet, we come to see this through Faith.
This is what I pondered this morning, early.
We see the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The work of adoption is a Trinitarian work! WE are adopted children of God, when we come into relationship with Christ through the Church. Father Daniel Meynen has written in his "Twentieth page about the Holy Spirit,"
We have here one of the most beautiful texts of Saint Paul, who summarizes in a few words, in a line or two, the whole economy of salvation in Christ. It is about the whole Trinity, Father,Son, and Spirit, about the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and
the adoptive sons destined to become heirs of God himself. In particular, the action of the Holy Spirit is described here in all his relationships. The Spirit is the one who is sent by the Father; he is the Spirit of the Son; he is the one who achieves in us our link of filial adoption by crying: "Abba! Father!" ;he is the one who achieved in Mary the initial Work of the Incarnation.
There is the deep relationship that we are shown to have in Christ here, as we grow into the maturity that we are all called toward in Christ. So often, we only desire to come to the first things of Christ and stay there, undesiring of the deeper relationship we might have in Christ, if we should move past the initial stages of our conversion. We think that it may require too much of us. We think it may be more than what we already know to be true in the "cocoon of our own understandings," as limited as those may be. Often we do not desire to grow in grace, to go on to the meat of the words of God. We desire to stay with the milk as babes in Christ. What God desires for us, however, is growth in grace an a complete conversion, an ongoing conversion, that is only consummated at the consummation of all things at the Parousia (the Second Coming) of Christ. God desires to perfection and the holiness that comes through intimacy with God in the communion of the saints. Nothing less than this, nothing short of this perfect communion, will do for us in the Heart of God the Holy Trinity. My good priest in Belgium continues,
Our filial adoption in the Spirit is without any doubt a
Trinitarian work. The Spirit is the Spirit of the Son, and heis sent by the Father. All Trinitarian work "ad extra," that isto say "outside" the Holy Trinity, is always common to the threedivine persons. But it is attributed to one of them ; here, ourfilial adoption is attributed to the Holy Spirit. The thoughtof Saint Paul can be found in the gospel of Saint John, when Jesus said: "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and myFather will love him, and we will come to him and make our homewith him." (John 14:23)
There is a living relationship with God we have in the union of Love. John tells us that God is Love. The relationship with God is a HOME, a real Home, for us. It has the Father, the Brother, and the Mother (The true spouse of the Holy Spirit). It is the Home that we all truly desire to live in, the perfect Home. It is the perfect Family in communion with God and all of the saints. It is so wonderful that we seem to always fail to grasp all of the significance of the images before us that so plainly describe this Home. These images must be carefully studied and taken into our hearts in order to gain the fullest possible impact upon just exactly what God has done here. Fr. Meynen continues,
The Spirit is sent to us by the Father: "God has sent theSpirit of his Son into our hearts." A French Carmelite nun,Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity, writes in one of her prayers:"O consuming fire, Spirit of Love, come in me so that in my souloccur(s) like an incarnation of the Verb ; may I be for Him anadded humanity in whom he renews his whole Mystery." As we can see, this nun, really inspired by the Spirit, establishes a similarity between the sending of the Verb at the time of Incarnation, and the coming of the Spirit of God in her. This similarity has its foundation in the very words of the Lord who calls the Holy Spirit: "another Paraclet(e)" (John 14:16), meaning that he himself is the first Paraclete.
This Carmelite nun is not alone in this understanding. It was also St. John of the Cross, another Carmelite, who described the consuming fire of God's Love for us. St. Catherine of Genoa also describes this in her vision of the cleansing fire of God's Love. St. Paul described this in his first letter to the Church at Corinth in chapter 3. Yes, it is God desire to make us holy people. It is God's desire to make us like unto the Mother of Jesus, our Mother, the Mother of the Church. (II Corinthians 11:2). Still, there is more to consider, as Father Meynen leads us --
If the Spirit who is sent by the Father is the Spirit of the Son, it means that the Spirit comes in us as much as he reflects perfectly all the thought of the Son, all what the Son - who is the Image of the Father - can have in his spirit, that is to say, the spirit or the concept of son ship. It is therefore to give us this spirit of filiation or son ship that the Spirit of the Son sent by the Father comes in us: thus making us
adoptive children, moved by the spirit of son ship towards theFather, through the Son. The Holy Spirit is besides he whopossesses in him all that which is proper to the Son, as theLord declared it, when he said : "When the Spirit of truth comes. . . He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine anddeclare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I
said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."
(John 16:13-15) . . .
If the Spirit in us cries out "Father!," it means that we aresons of God through adoption. The Holy Spirit makes us similarto Christ because, through the Spirit, we carry in us the veryWord of the Father. But all this allows us to discover the very seriousness of the sacrament of Eucharist. For only theEucharist can insure that we truly have in us the very Word ofGod. Only the Eucharist, received really or only though desire,can therefore makes us adoptive sons of God. Besides, the Lordhimself has declared: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless youeat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have nolife in you." (John 6:53)
Finally, the Spirit who comes in us is the One who achieved inMary the Work of the Incarnation. If there is a similaritybetween the coming of the Verb at the time of the Incarnationand the coming of the Spirit intended to make us adoptive sonsof God, it is clear that it is with the help of Mary that theSpirit comes in us: Mary is there in us to help us in thismarvelous task of regeneration through the Spirit! It is as ifMary, then, gives us birth into the divine life in Jesus Christ,through the Holy Spirit.
This all brings me to my reflection this morning.
I saw in it the beauty of Mary and the saints, the whole Church of God. I saw how we are all bonded together in a unity that cannot be fully comprehended. This unity is one of Love. Yes, we are all a part of the Church that Jesus built upon the Rock through the Faith and the Baptism we have in Christ. (Mark 16:15-16). Through this sacrament of baptism, coupled with the faith the Holy Spirit produces within us, we are brought into relationship with God the Holy Trinity and potentially into the very real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the other sacraments. Yet, this is not entirely so for all the members of the Church, the people of God, because all are not in communion with the fullest sacramental expression of the Church, some through no fault of their own. It is God's desire that there be one Church and that all the Church might be in communion with all members of the Body of Christ. (Cf. John 10:1-32; 12:32; 12:44-50; John 15-18). These divisions are not of God.
There are many people who truly love Jesus Christ. These have a deep love for God. And, yet, there is a missing dimension they cannot see, because the enemy has tried to make us all content with less than what is really ours in the real Presence of Jesus.
I think here of Mary, the Mother of the Church, who went to live with St. John, following the events of the Cross. I think on the reality of what Mary and John spoke about concerning the Divinity of her Son-- the loving Mother and Son relationship, the fulfilled promises, the content of the Magnificat, the fulfilled prophecies under the law, and many other sayings and works of Jesus. I think, also, of the real issues involved in the letter to the Galatians passage at the beginning of this paper. "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba Father!" So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir." (Galatians 4:4-7). What a promise to us as believers.
How we sometimes seem to pass these words off as so much "extraneous material," as we seek to get to Jesus. Yet, these words, every one of them, is loaded with meaning. The meaning for me is focused in the context of Mary.
I was born to Mary (Pope) and Ed Curley on July 1, 1947. My parents were not Roman Catholic Christians. Yet, they were Christians who loved the Lord Jesus. This day, July 1st, is also called, "the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ." My grandmother, Pauline Pope, used to sing the song, "What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! Oh, Precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know. Nothing but the Blood of Jesus." I think that I was influenced by this song as well as by the feast day I knew nothing about when I was born, for the very next day of my life was July 2, 1947, the "Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
July 16th is, "Our Lady of Mount Carmel," and August 15 is the "Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary," the birth date of my daughter, Elizabeth, whom we named that name without knowing of July 2nd. I only describe these dates to show myself and the reader that there is a "connection" that I make with our Mother and the Precious Blood of her Son, our only Savior and Lord -- Jesus Christ.
It is God's desire that we might all become holy.
God calls us to holiness in the Holy Trinity, because God is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.
God has made provision for this in the Blessed Holy Spirit, through the Person of Jesus Christ born of Mary, and, through the perfect will of God the Father.
There is a picture that the Holy Spirit has painted for us in Mary.
In Mary, the Mother that Jesus gave to John, and thereby to all of us, we see God's example of what is God's plan and purpose in Christ for us. We are made "new creations," that we might fully, actually, become the new creations we are in Christ. (II Corinthians 5:17). God does not, in fact, stop with the initial conversion experience we have at faith and baptism. God is involved in our total conversion from our actual physical / spiritual birth to our baptism and faith experience (if we ever come to that) through to our death and reward. God takes all the time needed to make himself known that we might be saved, redeemed, and come to that place (which we may never experience), the place of, "Abba! Father!"
Our Lady and John came to that place, and lived there fully, beloved. They are examples for us all. John and Mary show us-- the Way, the Truth, the Life we might have in Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father. (John 14:-16).
I see Mother calling us in the wilderness where St. John saw her, following her coronation as the woman clothes with the starts and sun and moon, (Revelation 12). She calls us into the wilderness where she has a place prepared for her by God, where we, the remnant of her seed, might come and find the real Presence of Christ, the Fruit of her womb. I saw her beckoning me this morning, when she showed me her Son in the annunciation by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:31-32), where Jesus is the Son of the Most High God. It was Mary who gave him the Name-- Jesus, for Jesus would save his people from their sins.
It was in the visitation to Elizabeth (Luke 1:42-45), where Mary will sing her song, the Magnificat, and stay with Elizabeth for three months, through the periods of the feasts that the Church has marked on our calendars -- the assumption (August 15), the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (September 8th), the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary (October 7), Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary (October 11), Christ the King (Last Sunday October), All Saints (November 1), and, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (November 2). Perhaps, this may be the reason for these dates the Church has made in the liturgical calendar? Mary provides an insight for us to understand better her Son.
I saw her at the Nativity (Luke 2:6-7); at the presentation of Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem (Luke 2:22), and, her and Joseph's ardent desire to find Jesus and the amazement at what they found Jesus doing, when they found him in the Temple. (Luke 2:46-47). Are we ardently desiring Jesus with Mary and Joseph?
Then, Mary and John are at the foot of the Cross and at the Passion of Jesus in the Garden with Matthew. (Matthew 26:36-39). With Matthew, she sees the scourging at the pillar. (Matthew 27:25-26); the terrible crowning with the thorns (Matthew 27:28-29), the carrying of the Cross (John 19:17-18), and, his crucifixion and death. (Luke 23:45-46). These were all for us and our salvation through Christ.
But, most importantly, I saw a more excellent vision of the blessed hope and reality for our own future in God the Holy Trinity.
I saw the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, as he promised. (Matthew 28:5-6).
I see that Jesus ascended into heaven near Bethany where Jesus had raised Lazarus. (John 11:18).
Then, in the midst of all of this, I saw Mary with the Church at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the whole Church, even as the Spirit had come uniquely to Mary during Advent. The Church was born, and, Mary was there at its birth as our Mother. (Acts 2:2-4).
But, still, it becomes more beautiful.
Mary experiences the assumption into heaven, as we will also experience in like manner, (Judith 13:18; I Corinthians 15:51-57).
And, praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ, there is the ultimate picture of what awaits those who, like Mary, are have obtained the obedience of faith through the Holy Spirit, the coronation. (Revelation 12:1). How lovely is our Lady in the graces God bestowed upon her. How lovely are the graces she extends from God to us.
Are we not the seed of faith?
Jesus is the Seed of Abraham. Abraham is the father of all the faithful. Mary, the woman of God, the perfect picture of what God desires for us to be, the "chaste virgin." Shall we not desire this for our own lives in Christ, the Father, the Holy Spirit, as we cry out -- "Abba, Father?"
Oh, my soul, that ought to seek my God!
How I long to rise above this lowly sod
To embrace my God, and Mother sweet,
And stand there with her at Christ's feet;
Beneath the Cross where cruel men took
His clothes, and sold them, before her look
That she might help John write this book.
How lovingly and humbly with John she stands
There to make us all here to better understand
The Way of God, the Truth, the Life,
In his perfect plan to make us sons of Light.
How tenderly our Mother calls us to her Son,
That in the Christ we all might finally become one.
We are the children in the wilderness with Mother
That we might find in Mary's Child no other
Salvation than in Jesus alone -- Yes, God alone.
Deus et Sanctissima, and, may God bless you.