Monday 24th September 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review… Unveiling The Divine Mysteries Of The Mother Of God

August 22, 2018 Featured Today No Comments


The World’s First Love, by Fulton J. Sheen (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2011), 280 pp. $17.95. Available from or by calling 1-800-651-1531.

Like all of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s spiritual works, this book dedicated to Mary, Mother of God, “The Woman I Love,” provides a comprehensive education on the breadth and depth of Catholic thought. The range of insight, the fullness of Catholic truth, and the multitude of subjects it treats make the experience comparable to a semester course in theology that offers a banquet of intellectual and spiritual nourishment for both the beginner and the advanced student.
Following the major events in the life of the Blessed Mother from the Immaculate Conception to the Annunciation to the Assumption, the book unveils the divine mysteries that inform both the life of the Mother of God and the Son of God.
Sheen begins with a simple but profound statement of the mystery of love: “Every person carries within his heart a blueprint of the one he loves. What seems to be ‘love at first sight’ is actually the fulfillment of desire, the realization of a dream.”
This discovery illuminates both human and divine love. God Himself possessed in His mind “an eternal blueprint” of the woman He desired to be His Mother, the most perfect, pure, gentle, merciful, humble, and obedient woman — “the one whom every man loves when he loves a woman — whether he knows it or not,” the person every woman wants to emulate, and the ideal every man seeks in his choice of a wife. God’s chooses the most immaculate woman to serve as virgin and mother.
The book examines God’s unique relationship with man that always involves cooperation, not dictatorship, and respects man’s free will and human dignity without coercion: “The mystery of the Incarnation is very simply that of God’s asking a woman freely to give Him a human nature.” Mary’s fiat (“Be it done unto me according to Thy Word”), Sheen explains, proves that she consented, collaborated, and abandoned herself to God’s plan in the surrender of love.
Mary’s welcome to God in her conception by the Holy Spirit and her willingness to be the Mother of God revealed a generous heart devoid of every trace of self-interest and receptive to the fullness of God’s grace: “The more empty the soul is of self, the greater the room in it for God.” Therefore she magnifies the Lord, for He has filled her with abundance. God’s design depends on man’s “Yes” to His will.
Sheen then explains the mystery of the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception: “How could God become man and yet be a sinless man and the Head of the New Humanity?” To be born as a son of Adam and Eve and inherit original sin would not fulfill the plan of God’s redemption. Only a birth conceived by God and a virgin full of grace and endowed with an Immaculate Conception and an unfallen human nature satisfied the divine conditions for salvation: “If we take her away, then either God does not become man, or He that is born of her is not God.”
Mary’s cooperation with God’s Providence permitted Christ to mediate between God and man and allowed the Mother of God to intercede between Christ and humanity (“Son, behold thy Mother.”)
The example of the Holy Mother illuminates the vocation of womanhood in its virtues of acceptance, resignation, and submission. The handmaid of the Lord accepts God’s call with humility, resigns herself to an unknown future about a sword piercing her heart, and submits with the total gift of self-forgetfulness, “with total and complete dedication” as the servant of God.
As “Collaborator with the Divine,” Mary exemplifies woman’s generous role in the fruitfulness of God’s superabundant love: “Woman is made for the sacred. She is Heaven’s instrument on earth . . . who fulfills in herself the deepest aspirations of the heart of every daughter of Eve” — to love with a bountiful heart that never stops giving.
Sheen describes the marriage of Joseph and Mary as “the world’s happiest marriage” because the marriage unites two hearts rather than two bodies, and the debts of husbands and wives to one another are sacrificed for God’s higher purpose. Without the normal marital union of conjugal love, Joseph and Mary nonetheless brought to their marriage “two hearts with greater torrents of love than had ever before coursed through human hearts.”
They omitted the ecstasy of human love as a symbol or foretaste of heavenly joy because “they already possessed the Divinity” and experienced the “sweet voluptuousness of hearts” with no thought of the flesh.
Christ’s boyhood in the life of the family sanctified the virtue of obedience. His obedience to Joseph and Mary in humble service, quiet humility, and glad willingness to cooperate and please, Sheen explains, combats every temptation of pride, defiance, and rebellion and teaches the duty of children to honor their parents according to the Ten Commandments:
“The only recorded acts of Our Blessed Lord’s childhood are acts of obedience — to God, His Heavenly Father, and also to Mary and Joseph.”
Thus the home in Nazareth epitomized the domestic church, “a home that was dedicated to God.” Jesus’ example illustrates that growth in intelligence and wisdom follows from dutiful obedience: “The more we obey the inherent law of anything, the more that thing reveals itself to us.” The obedience learned in the home naturally cultivates obedience to natural authority and just law — the foundation of civil order.
Sheen’s reflection on the marriage at Cana observes that it was the Holy Mother, not the servant, who noticed the lack of wine — a kind mother anticipating others’ needs before they express them. This episode teaches the importance of man’s essential role in cooperating with God’s will by filling the jars with water and then witnessing the great miracle God performs with man’s meager contribution — ordinary water transformed into the best wine served last: “Aid yourself, and Heaven will aid you.”
As Sheen explains Mary’s maternal role in each person’s salvation, she senses man’s needs before he recognizes them. Just as a child cannot perfectly articulate his needs and depends on his mother’s sensitive understanding, “so the Blessed Mother understands our cries and worries and knows them better than we know ourselves.” In this way she is the Mother of the living.
The Blessed Mother’s role in man’s redemption illuminates the mystery of the relationship between love and sorrow. The mother whose great joy magnified the Lord soon learned that a sword would pierce her heart. A Transfiguration that radiates the splendor of the sun and the beauty of purity serves, Sheen notes, as “prepayment” for the sorrows and crosses that inevitably follow, just as the ecstasy of young marital love offers an “advance” for the many responsibilities and demands of lifelong union and the care of a family.
While the beginning of every love story fills the heart with love’s sweetness, it can never be mindless of its demanding obligations and many sacrifices. Sheen cites the greatest proof of the Holy Mother’s Immaculate Heart of sacrificial love in her example at the Annunciation: “a woman who would accept the responsibilities of love without the prepayment of pleasure.” This purification of love through sorrow always ennobles and elevates the heart to “a higher degree of love through the bearing of a cross.”
The chapter on Mary’s Assumption depicts the nature of love as an upward movement like the direction of fire that Sheen calls “a law of spiritual gravitation” — the soul leading the body as in Christ’s Ascension and the Holy Mother’s Assumption and radiating its beauty as human love ascends to spiritual love. The Assumption of Mary like the Resurrection of Christ proclaims the victory of love over death, and “the Church meets the despair of the world….She affirms the beauty of life as against death.”
Mary’s departure from Earth without the corruption of the flesh or separation of body and soul promises the restoration of all that is lost in death and the integration of divided man into his original unbroken unity. God’s Providence works in miracles that bring good out of evil.

Love And Fidelity

In the chapter “Man and Woman,” Sheen acknowledges woman’s special role in God’s redemption revealed by Mary’s example and the women at the cross. While men like Judas, Pilate, Annas, and Caiaphas failed Christ and Peter denied Him three times, “there is not a single instance of a woman’s failing Jesus.” Mary of Magdala, Mary of Cleophas, and his Mother Mary remained at the cross and never abandoned their Lord.
Sheen compares the crisis of modernity — the crisis of the family — to the greatest of all crises, the crucifixion, when the women proved their love, fidelity, and commitment to the cause of life.
As nurturers, custodians, and defenders of human life, woman restores the image of man to the likeness of God and values the preciousness of the gift life as sacred and God-given — as an ultimate value the world fails to appreciate.
She protects the sanctity of life from all the political ideologies that precipitated the wars of the twentieth century and that have produced the culture of death in legalized abortion:
“It is a historical fact that, whenever the world has been in danger of collapse, there has been re-emphasis of devotion to the Woman, who is not salvation but who renders it by bringing her children back again to Christ.”
Thus the revelations of the Blessed Mother at Salette, Lourdes, and Fatima reveal the intercession of a maternal heart filled with mercy and compassion for the victims of atrocities that dehumanize human life.
The restoration of Christian culture depends on Mary’s example and woman’s virtue. By modeling devotion, fidelity, and the indissolubility of marriage to resist the culture of divorce and cohabitation, by respecting “the primacy of the human” above the utilitarian, political, and the economic view of man as a mere worker or consumer, and by exemplifying purity to curb the worldly temptations of lust in its shameless displays of immodesty, “God in His Mercy is trumpeting the Woman to ‘make a man,’ to remake personality.”
Recalling that a forgotten epithet of the Holy Mother as “Lady of Equity” pleading for mercy impressed Henry Adams in the Cathedral at Chartres, Sheen views modern woman’s quest for equality rather than equity a folly. The Lady of Equity governs with “woman’s special glory — mercy, pity, understanding, and the intuition of human needs.” No career offers the fulfillment of the deepest desires of a woman’s heart — “someone for whom she can sacrifice herself — not in a servile way but in the way of love” that inspires care, devotion, and the personal human touch.
Civilization flourishes and societies learn the virtues of the heart from the maternal and feminine virtues of noble women who inspire men to cherish life, value the personal, and see in each person the image of God. Though equal in dignity in God’s eyes, man and woman differ in their distinct roles and unique virtues “like the lock and the key.”
In short, Sheen’s masterpiece offers the wealth of the Church’s teaching in the fullness of the truth and in the depth of its mysteries. To follow the life of the Holy Mother from her birth to death inspires a contemplation of mysteries and miracles that reach the depths of the soul. With the aid of Sheen’s masterful exposition, the life of Mary and the life of Christ educate the mind, heart, and conscience in human and divine wisdom with invaluable lessons that require both faith and reason for understanding.
God is neither a simple and clear idea nor an inscrutable enigma, but an intelligible mystery filled with light for reason and filled with love for wonder.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Load More...

Youth synod deserves in-depth Catholicism, not LGBT lobbying, critics say

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2018 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- A coalition of secular and dissenting Catholic LGBT groups aims to influence the Church’s upcoming Synod on Young People by rallying the like-minded to write to the synod to contend that…Continue Reading

NFL star stuns interviewer: We have 8 kids and hope for more

MILFORD, Connecticut, September 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers made an interviewer gasp with amazement when he confirmed that he has eight children – and wants more. Dan Patrick of The Dan Patrick Show chatted with NFL…Continue Reading

Vatican deals with China are leaving Catholics around the world baffled

In what was an unprecedented move, the Vatican earlier this year asked Chinese underground bishops to step down. Apparently, Rome believes the atheist Chinese regime is better qualified to select its bishops than the Roman Catholic Church. And thus, it is conceding…Continue Reading

Yet another US bishop calls for Youth Synod to be canceled so Church can ‘deal with abuse crisis’

TYLER, Texas, September 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Texas bishop has called for the Youth Synod to be canceled in light of the ongoing scandal regarding the cover-up of episcopal sexual abuse of minors and seminarians. On September 8, Bishop…Continue Reading


ATLANTA ( – Celebrity Jesuit Fr. James Martin is heading to Georgia, courtesy of pro-gay Abp. Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia. On Friday, Martin announced on Twitter that Abp. Gregory has invited him to speak in October at two Atlanta-area locations.…Continue Reading

Leaked sex abuse report rocks German church, 3,677 victims

September 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Two German major media outlets – Der Spiegel and Die Zeit – leaked today the findings of a sexual abuse commission funded by the German Bishops’ Conference and which Cardinal Reinhard Marx had planned to present to the public…Continue Reading

US bishops’ president accused of allowing reported sex abuser access to kids

September 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, has been accused of allowing a priest who confessed to sex abuse of a minor to function as a pastor of a parish,…Continue Reading

Cdl. Cupich on abuse crisis: We shouldn’t be ‘distracted’ by this, Church has ‘bigger agenda’

CHICAGO, September 10, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – When challenged about the clergy sexual abuse scandal now facing the Church, Cardinal Blase Cupich told a large gathering of seminarians that the Church’s agenda is “bigger” than the sexual corruption now facing the…Continue Reading

Catholic prelates must speak out, now, as the faithful are attacked by their own shepherds

September 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The following reflection is the result of a couple of days of my reading and thinking about the last five years, but then also about the last fifty years. Trying to get an interview with…Continue Reading

Oklahoma archbishop: I’ve ‘deepest respect’ for Viganó. His claims demand ‘deeper examination’

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma, August 31, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley has issued a statement saying he has the “deepest respect” for Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó and his “integrity.” Some on the left have attempted to cast doubt…Continue Reading

One Mad Mom . . . Martin’s Cozy with Proximate Occasions of Sin

Let me say this, I am a mom of a multitude of kids and have spent their lives trying to ensure their safety and well-being.  I have THE biggest stake with what’s been going on in the Church for decades. …Continue Reading

Thousands of Catholic women ask Pope: Did you cover-up for McCarrick, as Viganò claims?

August 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of prominent Catholic women have written an open letter to Pope Francis imploring him to provide clarity on the “escalating” sex abuse crisis currently “engulfing” the Church. Expressing anger, betrayal, and heartbreak, the women bluntly…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Newly published excerpts from Benedict’s private letters reveal his concern over Church crisis

ROME, September 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A German newspaper today has published excerpts of two private letters Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote less than one year ago, that give insight into how he views his resignation, and his deep concern for the state of the Church following his departure from the papacy. Bild newspaper has reported that the two letters bearing Benedict’s signature — and which independent sources have authenticated — w

US bishops’ silence on meeting with Pope could put their credibility on sex abuse at risk

ROME, September 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Have the jocular images and low-key statements of US Bishops following their meeting with Pope Francis last week set back their attempts to address the grave situation in the Church, especially the handling of sexual abuse cases by bishops? The details that have been revealed of the bishops’ meeting with Francis last Thursday give no indication that they addressed the extent of the McCarrick coverup or the need for…Continue Reading

Cardinal Maradiaga rebukes papal critics: McCarrick abuse scandal ‘of a private order’

September 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The scandal of ex-Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual abuse of young priests and seminarians and Pope Francis’ alleged cover-up are “of a private order,” and a merely “administrative affair,” according to one of the Pope’s top advisers, Cardinal Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga. He made these remarks in a recent interview in one of the most revealing statements to date on the Viganò testimony. In an interview published on Wednesday evening by Religion Digital, the religious portal…Continue Reading

Dutch Catholic church accused of widespread sexual abuse cover-up

More than half of the Netherlands’ senior clerics were involved in covering up sexual assault of children between 1945 and 2010, a press report claimed on Saturday, further engulfing the Catholic church in a global abuse scandal. Over the course of 65 years, 20 of 39 Dutch cardinals, bishops and their auxiliaries “covered up sexual abuse, allowing the perpetrators to cause many more victims”, the daily NRC reported. “Four abused children and 16 oth

Steve Bannon Drafting Curriculum for Right-Wing Catholic Institute in Italy

(Reuters) – Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon is helping to craft the curriculum for a leadership course at a right-wing Roman Catholic institute in Italy, stepping up his efforts to influence conservative thinking in the church. Benjamin Harnwell, director of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute based in a mountaintop monastery not far from Rome, told Reuters Bannon had been helping to build up the institute for about half of its eight-year life. Cardinal Raymond…Continue Reading


Staying Aboard The Barque In A Raging Sea

By LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON “Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but He was asleep. They came and woke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ He said to them, ‘Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?’” (Matt. 8:24-26). The Barque…Continue Reading

And What’s Next?… Why The Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings Turned Into A Circus

By REY FLORES By the time you are reading this, it’s possible that the Senate Judiciary Committee will have already voted for Brett Kavanaugh and sent him on his way to full Senate approval, making him the newest member of the Supreme Court of the United States. However, given the way the first day of…Continue Reading

Like Its Film Students… JP Catholic University Steps Out Into The Wild On Its Mission

By DEXTER DUGGAN ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Discussing a few definitely different films as The Wanderer visited with him, Derry Connolly turned to the monitor at his desk and called them up instantly, from the 1993 Western Tombstone, directed by George Cosmatos, to Scout: A Star Wars Story, released by students at his own school last…Continue Reading

Chaplain Tells Medical Workers…. Discovering God’s Will Leads To Love And Joy

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — Although those seeking a direction in life may turn to searching for God’s will, a Phoenix chaplain reminded listeners that another ruler from beyond the Earth also has a plan for their lives, Satan. Fr. Ignatius Mazanowski, FHS, chaplain of the Phoenix Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, explored a…Continue Reading

Solzhenitsyn: Truth Is Light

By DONALD DeMARCO Without the truth we are in the dark, not knowing how to think, judge, act, or live. Please tell us the truth. Please dispel the darkness. Readers of The Wanderer will understand my plea without my needing to divulge names. We do, as Marshall McLuhan explained to us, live in a global…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Leaven In This World “As for Me and My Household, We Will Serve the Lord”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we…Continue Reading

The Sacrament Of Confession… More Testimony From The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 5 A few more quotations from the Early Fathers of the Church will conclude our list of testimonies. If our Wanderer readers feel I have quoted too many of them, I am glad, because it proves ad nauseam that the Early Christians believed and practiced the Sacrament of Confession since the very beginning of…Continue Reading

The Integral Parts Of Prudence

By DON FIER Prudence, the first of the four cardinal virtues scrutinized by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), is defined in its Glossary as “the virtue which disposes a person to discern the good and choose the correct means to accomplish it.” It is designated as the charioteer of all the virtues in that “it guides [them] by…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. It’s been several years since a Vatican commission was appointed to investigate the legitimacy of the alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje. What is the status of that investigation? — M.K., South Carolina. A. In 2014, the commission concluded a four-year study of the Medjugorje phenomenon and sent a report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of…Continue Reading

HLI’s Mission To Mongolia… There Are Setbacks, But The Church Continues

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. This commentary first appeared September 3 at and was reprinted by All rights reserved.) + + + “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Servant of God Rozalia Celak

By CAROLE BRESLIN The closer one comes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the hotter the flame, as many saints have attested. St. Catherine of Siena bore the marks in her heart where the arrow of Christ’s love pierced it. With the flame of the burning love, the Sacred Heart touches those whom He loves in a special way. To…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Our Lady Of Mount Carmel

By CAROLE BRESLIN In northern Israel between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea, a mountain range stretches inland. This range, although named Mount Carmel, is really a series of mountains stretching inland. The main site of the Mount, the Stella Maris monastery of the Discalced Carmelites, sits on a limestone bluff overlooking the city of Haifa. The view…Continue Reading