Wednesday 14th November 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

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN

The World’s First Love, by Fulton J. Sheen (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2011), 280 pp. $17.95. Available from www.ignatius.com 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

Having watched the first session of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops General Meeting, and that fact that the Pope has ordered them not vote on any action items, I have to ask, what is the point of this meeting? What is the point of National Bishops' Conferences?

One of my #prolife colleagues talked to a mom outside of an #Abortion facility the other day; at one point she asked, “My baby has a heartbeat?“ She chose life. The simple facts about the development of the #unborn turn people around. The abortion industry hides all these facts.

Load More...

US bishops consider asking Pope Francis to release McCarrick documents

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will consider officially asking Pope Francis to release any documents related to alleged serial sexual abuser Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. The motion was made from the…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholic Bishops Meet in the Shadow, Still, of Clergy Sex Abuse

This weekend, the Catholic bishops of the United States gather in Baltimore ahead of their three-day annual general assembly, which opens Monday. By coincidence, it will be 16 years exactly since their session in 2002, when they met to amend…Continue Reading

The Synodal Church

Antonio Spadaro, SJ – Carlos Galli Forty years ago, Jesuit Father Arij Roest Crollius wrote: “What is so new about inculturation?”[1] His reflection was a milestone in the understanding of that word and in welcoming a concept at the heart of…Continue Reading

National network of Catholic church leaders told to preserve all communications

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has asked the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to preserve all electronic and paper documents in case other federal prosecutors need to look into accusations of sexual assault against current…Continue Reading

Cdl. Burke ‘strongly’ endorses new virtue education program for young people

October 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Church’s most outspoken defenders of life, marriage, and family, has “strongly” endorsed a new virtue education program for children. “Alive to the World” is a continuous, story-based virtues/values program. Much…Continue Reading

Pittsburgh wants to revoke Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of kids event over Christian marriage views

PITTSBURGH, October 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – America’s most successful Christian food chain may be driven out of a children’s community event in Pittsburgh over the owners’ Christian-based view of marriage and homosexuality, if the Pittsburgh City Council has its way.…Continue Reading

Australian bishop touts women’s ordination: ‘transformation of priesthood’ is underway

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, October 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian bishop recently told priests that admitting women to the priesthood in the Church’s current state of affairs would be like pouring new wine into old wine skins, but that a “transformation…Continue Reading

Twitter locks LifeSite out of account for ‘hate’: fact-based post on rise in gay STDs

October 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Twitter has just locked LifeSiteNews out of our Twitter account over an article we posted four years ago that provided expert analysis on the rise in sexually-transmitted diseases among homosexuals. The 2014 piece by Dr. Gerard M.…Continue Reading

Ave Maria U president who criticized Cdl. Burke, Archbishop Viganò announces resignation

AVE MARIA, Florida, October 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Just six weeks after he issued a statement criticizing Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Vigano, Ave Maria University (AMU) announced its president Jim Towey will step down in June 2020. Vigano’s 11-page testimony…Continue Reading

‘Just glad we ruined Kavanaugh’s life’: Pro-abortion Left responds to Supreme Court defeat

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Judge Brett Kavanaugh is now Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and the left-wing forces who pulled out all the stops to defeat him show no signs of cooling down anytime soon. The Senate voted 50-48 on…Continue Reading

Pope selects youth from pro-gay Vatican consultant’s media org to attend Synod

October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The four young people from Canada now at the Vatican synod on youth are all from Salt and Light Media. The Toronto-based media outlet is run by Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is also on…Continue Reading

Youth Synod Archbishop apologizes to young Catholics for sex abuse, ‘unbeautiful liturgies’

ROME, October 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, has issued an extensive mea culpa at the Vatican Youth Synod for all the ways in which the hierarchy and members of the Church have failed young people — whether…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

Cburke3

  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

Catechism

Today . . .

Abp. Viganò urges U.S. bishops to confront sex abuse as ‘courageous shepherds’

ROME, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today has issued a brief note to the U.S. Bishops, urging them to confront sex abuse as “courageous shepherds” rather than “frightened sheep.” The U.S. Bishops are currently in Baltimore at their much-anticipated fall annual meeting at which they were expected to vote on concrete proposals to hold bishops accountable for their failures after the reve

Pope Francis . . . “First, there is the immense and ongoing crisis of climate change and the nuclear menace”

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY SESSION OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Consistory Hall Monday, 12 November 2018 [Multimedia]   Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to meet the full complement of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. I offer cordial welcome to the new Members and I am grateful to the former President, Professor Werner Arber for his gracious words of introduction, while I pray that Professor Joachim von…Continue Reading

Vatican orders U.S. bishops to halt plans for vote on sex-abuse reforms

BALTIMORE – The first gathering of the nation’s Catholic bishops since a summer wave of anger and recrimination over clergy sex abuse in the American church opened Monday with a stunning announcement: The prelates would not vote on a series of new accountability measures – and it was the Vatican who ordered them to hold off.

Our Veterans Fought and Died For Our Freedom, Not for Abortion

(Reprinted from 2013) In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, thirty men from the small town of Bedford, Virginia, huddled close together in landing craft churning through the dark waters of the English Channel on a mission unlike any other the world had ever known. Their destination: a strip of sand known as Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. Most of the thoughts running through the minds of these young men are lost to…Continue Reading

US bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development continues to fund pro-abortion, pro-LGBT groups

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Grants from the U.S. Bishops’ domestic anti-poverty arm are again benefitting groups associated with support for abortion and open homosexuality, new reports from the Lepanto Institute say. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) encourages Catholics to support its Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which it says helps those on the margins. Yet in the last several years, roughly half a million dollars, much of which…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Conflicting Rights In A Divided Nation

By LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON The Senate Judiciary hearings to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as an associate justice of the Supreme Court were brutal to his personal reputation, devastating to the comity of the congressional body, and inflammatory in an already divided nation. Protesters shouted in the hearing room, had sit-ins in the hall, accosted a senator…Continue Reading

The Paradox Of The Person

By DONALD DeMARCO The first law of nature is self-preservation. The highest law of morality is self-sacrifice. What the content these two sentences makes abundantly clear is that the life of the human being is one of perpetual tension. Self-preservation and self-sacrifice are not exactly on the same page. However, it is important to note…Continue Reading

Mass Migration: Mortal Threat To Red State America

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that his natural political instincts are superior to those of any other current figure. As campaign 2018 entered its final week, Trump seized upon and elevated the single issue that most energizes his populist base and most convulses our media elite. Warning of…Continue Reading

Shawnee State . . . Professors Must Speak Contrary To Their Beliefs Or Be Punished

CINCINNATI — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against Shawnee State University officials Monday, November 5 on behalf of a professor that the university punished because he declined a male student’s demand to be referred to as a woman, with feminine titles and pronouns (“Miss,” “she,” etc.). Although philosophy professor Dr. Nicholas Meriwether…Continue Reading

Trump Administration… Announces New Conscience Exemptions For HHS Mandate

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) — The Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor released two updated rules concerning conscience protections for organizations and individuals in relation to the HHS contraception mandate. Under the new rules, organizations and individuals objecting to the controversial mandate’s provisions on either religious or moral grounds will be exempt. According…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Indifference

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, Washington, D.C. Monsignor kindly gave The Wanderer permission to reprint this essay from his blog, which appeared there on November 5, 2018. All rights reserved.) + + + The Gospel for Tuesday of the 31st Week features the Lucan version of the parable about…Continue Reading

Shine Brightly Like The Stars

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Daniel 12:1-3 Heb. 10:11-14, 18 Mark 13:24-32 In the Gospel reading today our Lord teaches us about what will happen at the end of the world: The sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will be falling from the sky, and the…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Life Is Beautiful With Final Judgment In View

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The prospect of final judgment brings negative impressions, images, or emotions to mind for many. Sometimes it also does so for some who claim our Catholic faith. As a step along the way to spiritual maturity, we must often be purged of our childish or worldly impressions. With an authentic and deeper faith, the prospect…Continue Reading

The Sacrament Of Holy Orders… More On Women Priests — Why Not?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 4 The participation of women in the life of the Catholic Church over the centuries has been remarkable. Without being priests, women have played a major role in the instruction of the faithful, service of the sick and needy, and the works of the apostolate. The work of spreading the Gospel, as early as in…Continue Reading

Humility — Foundation Of The Spiritual Life

By DON FIER As has been demonstrated over the past two weeks, temperance is the cardinal virtue that “moderates the attraction of pleasures, assures the mastery of the will over instincts, and provides balance in the use of created goods” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 383). Although most often associated with man’s innate appetitive drives to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Elizabeth Of The Trinity

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a woman receives the Carmelite habit, she also receives a new name. St. Teresa of Avila received the name “of Jesus” and St. Therese of Lisieux received the name “of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.” Likewise, when Elizabeth Catez became a Carmelite and received her name, she was given the title “of the Trinity,”…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Catherine Of Alexandria

By CAROLE BRESLIN The list of saints is long, and includes both men and women from all walks of life and from all disciplines. For some saints, there is a plenitude of documents and accounts of their lives from which we can draw much information. For most of the saints from the early centuries of the Church, however, there is…Continue Reading