Sunday 21st April 2019

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

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid - https://t.co/2PUxpO4hgu

Fr. James Schall passed away today. A Jesuit priest & Georgetown professor, he served as mentor & model to a numberless many (including me). With penetrating insight & wit, he pointed us to Christ & those great Catholic minds we mustn't forget.

Fr. Schall, requiescat in pace.

Please pray for Raymond DeSousa today, who is a weekly Wanderer columnist who is undergoing serious surgery today.

Load More...

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., has died at the age of 91

Fr. James V. Schall, the prolific and much-beloved Jesuit, professor and author, died earlier today. His family states that “he was comfortable and at peace” at the time of his death. He was born in Pocahontas, Iowa, January 20, 1928.…Continue Reading

North Carolina Gov. vetoes bill requiring care for babies born alive after failed abortion

RALEIGH, April 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – North Carolina Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation Thursday morning that would require abortionists to provide basic medical care to newborns who survive failed abortions, just days after the measure cleared the state legislature.…Continue Reading

How Cardinal Wuerl Misled the Papal Foundation

In 2017, Cardinal Donald Wuerl provided false and misleading information to the board of the Papal Foundation to secure a $25 million grant for the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), a scandal-plagued hospital in Rome. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…Continue Reading

Since “Unplanned” Movie Released, 94 Abortion Clinic Workers Have Said They May Quit Their Jobs

Abby Johnson’s powerful conversion story is moving hearts inside the abortion industry. Chuck Konzelman, who is a co-writer/co-director of “Unplanned,” the new film detailing Johnson’s life, said nearly 100 abortion workers have reached out to them in the past few…Continue Reading

Franciscan University president resigns

Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 8, 2019 / 07:50 am (CNA).- Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR, has resigned as president of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Fr. Sheridan informed the university’s trustees of his decision during a regular meeting of the board on…Continue Reading

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY HONORS ABORTION PROPONENT WITH COMMENCEMENT SOAPBOX, DOCTORATE

Alumni of Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland and the Cardinal Newman Society are voicing their outrage at the school’s selection of Mark Shriver to deliver the 2019 commencement address while also receiving an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Shriver is president of the Save the…Continue Reading

Emails show Planned Parenthood behind California rule to make churches pay for abortions

Sacramento, Calif., Apr 5, 2019 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- A 2014 California rule forcing religious groups, including churches, to cover elective abortions for employees was the result of direct pressure from Planned Parenthood, internal emails have shown. On April 4,…Continue Reading

Notre Dame’s Catholic duty

On Wednesday, the LGBT Law Forum at the law school hosted an event featuring Jim Obergefell, Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, plaintiffs in the Supreme Court caseObergefell v. Hodges, which mandated that every state recognize same-sex marriage. The talk was co-sponsored…Continue Reading

Catholic priests in Poland burn alleged sacrilegious books including ‘Harry Potter,’ condemn magic

Polish Catholic priests condemning magic burned dozens of books they considered to be sacrilegious, including works from the “Harry Potter” series. The SMS from Heaven Foundation – an evangelical group – posted photos of the burning at Gdansk’s Mother of…Continue Reading

Vatican Life Academy: Parents must vaccinate, even if vaccines come from aborted babies

VATICAN CITY, March 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a stunning declaration, the Pontifical Academy for Life — now populated entirely with Pope Francis appointments — has urged parents to vaccinate their children, even if the vaccines are derived from aborted…Continue Reading

Cardinal DiNardo discharged from hospital, expected to make full recovery

Houston, Texas, Mar 21, 2019 / 08:59 am (CNA).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston has been released from the hospital, following a mild stroke last week, his archdiocese announced March 20. The cardinal, who serves as president of the U.S.…Continue Reading

Montreal priest stabbed at Mass ‘eager’ to return

Montreal, Canada, Mar 23, 2019 / 03:19 pm (CNA).- Father Claude Grou is out of the hospital and grateful for the groundswell of support he received after he was stabbed by an assailant while celebrating a televised Mass at St.…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

Tickets For Life

Today . . .

Cardinal Tobin: Catechism language ‘very unfortunate’ on homosexuality

Newark, N.J., Apr 18, 2019 / 10:54 am (CNA).- The Archbishop of Newark said Wednesday that the language used by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe homosexual acts is “very unfortunate,” adding that he hopes the Catechism will use different language in its discussion of homosexuality. “The Church, I think, is having its own conversation about what our faith has us do and say with people in relationships that are same-sex. What should…Continue Reading

Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral goes up in flames

PARIS, April 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Paris authorities are battling a fire in the city’s Notre Dame cathedral that broke out Monday, producing massive plumes of smoke billowing from the historic Catholic site. Authorities have cleared the area surrounding the cathedral as they battle flames “leap[ing] out besides its two bell towers,” NBC News reports. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has requested that passersby steer clear of the vicinity until further

Medical students in Africa outraged over U.S. based org enticing them to become abortionists

UGANDA, April 12, 2019, LifeSiteNews – A U.S. based pro-abortion group that misleadingly calls itself “Catholics for Choice” is enticing unsuspecting medical students in Africa’s most vibrant Catholic countries to become not only abortion promoters but even abortionists, according to medical students who attended a workshop hosted by the organization. Ugandan medical students recently became troubled when they realized too late that a seminar about “reproductive he

Full text of Benedict XVI essay: ‘The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse’

popeben

Vatican City, Apr 10, 2019 / 04:23 pm (CNA).- The following is a previously unpublished essay from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI: On February 21 to 24, at the invitation of Pope Francis, the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences gathered at the Vatican to discuss the current crisis of the faith and of the Church; a crisis experienced throughout the world after shocking revelations of clerical abuse perpetrated against minors. The extent and gravity of…Continue Reading

“Unplanned” Movie Stays in Top 10 With Surprisingly Strong 2nd Week at Box Office

The pro-life movie “Unplanned” finished in the Top 10 after a surprisingly strong 8th place finish at the box office this weekend. The film, which opened in theaters nationwide last week, follows the true story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director who became pro-life after watching a baby be aborted on an ultrasound screen. Despite a media blackout, a ‘R’ rating designed to discourage viewers and little coverage outside conservative media circles, “Unplanned” opened in 4th…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Memento Mori… The Danger Of Being Ultra-Nice

By DONALD DeMARCO A man wakes up in his nice apartment and, while having a nice cup of coffee, is told by a nice radio voice that the weather will be nice. He drives his nice car through his nice neighborhood and is wished a nice day, verbally by the teller at the bank and…Continue Reading

A Book Review… A Renaissance Man Looks At Human Worth

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Manetti, Giannozzo. On Human Worth and Excellence. Edited and translated by Brian P. Copenhaver; Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press, I Tatti Renaissance Library, pp LI + 362. One does not have to be a Renaissance historian or know much medieval philosophy or theology to appreciate this delightful book. On Human Worth and…Continue Reading

Dispute Over Papal Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Approval Continues

By KEVIN JONES VATICAN CITY (CNA) — Scrutiny continues for the U.S.-based Papal Foundation, amid questions of whether some of its grant activity was motivated by a desire to secure leniency for disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The ongoing controversy surrounds the foundation’s decision to make an unprecedented grant to a leading Italian hospital whose…Continue Reading

First Time In 300 Years… Rome’s Holy Stairs Are Uncovered

By HANNAH BROCKHAUS ROME (CNA) — The bare, white marble of Rome’s “Scala Sancta,” which are believed to be the stairs trod by Christ on the day of His trial and death, are now exposed and visible to pilgrims for the first time in almost 300 years. The stairs, encased in wood since the 1700s,…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . St. Peter Of Alcantara Tells Us How To Pray And Meditate

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Treatise on Prayer and Meditation, by St. Peter of Alcantara (212 pages, TAN Books & Publishers Inc., paperback and Kindle). Visit www.tanbooks.com, or call 1-800-437-5876. St. Peter of Alcantara (1499-1562) was born in Spain, and became a Franciscan friar in a strict observance friary. He was ordained in 1524, and went…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: It is easy to get discouraged at the state of the Church these days, particularly at the decline in the number of Religious sisters from 181,000 in 1965 to about 47,000 today, which Fr. George Rutler blames partly on those orders which “accepted bad advice from misguided and misguiding theologians and leaders. Bishops often have been at fault,…Continue Reading

Holy Father . . . Approves Decrees Regarding Eight Candidates For Sainthood

By DEBORAH CASTELLANO LUBOV ROME (ZENIT) — Pope Francis on April 6 received in audience Angelo Cardinal Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the same congregation to promulgate the decrees regarding: — The miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Donizetti Tavares de Lima, diocesan…Continue Reading

Faith In The Person Of Jesus

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Easter Sunday (YR C) Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Col. 3:1-4 John 20:1-9 Today we celebrate the most important day in the Church’s year. We know our Lord told His disciples that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and so enter into His glory. St. Peter speaks of this in the first reading and also…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Benedict XVI: “God Is Absent”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Benedict XVI released a statement in German last week on the abuse crisis (see text elsewhere in this issue). It shows the extent of the crisis that, although he seeks to live in prayer and contemplation, he has chosen to speak out on this topic with the okay from Pope Francis. People are craving clear…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: For those parents and grandparents looking for good advice on how to educate children and young people about the tough moral issues of the day, may we recommend the book Made This Way by Leila Miller and Trent Horn. The chapter headings deal with Sex Outside of Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage, Divorce, Contraception, Abortion, Reproductive Technologies, Modesty, Pornography, Transgender…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Of St. Joseph De Betancur

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church is the largest provider of health care in the world. As of 2013, more than 40,000 hospitals, clinics, and homes for the elderly were run by the Catholic Church throughout the world. The pioneering work of many devout saints for centuries provided care for the sick and the homeless. To care for the sick…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Hugh The Great

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the 11th century, over 150 years before St. Francis of Assisi received the order from our Lord to “repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin,” the secular rulers sought to control the appointment of bishops, abbots, and even the Pope. During this period of simony and conflict, St. Hugh the Great entered…Continue Reading