Friday, April 22, 2011

Mary Magdalene and the Resurrection

"Rabboni!"
 – Mary Magdalene

"Noli me tangere." "Do not touch me."

After Lazarus died and Jesus came to visit, first Martha came out to meet him. And she told him that if He had been there then their brother would not have died. Jesus then questioned her. And Martha responded correctly.

Then Mary came out to meet Jesus and repeats the same words that Martha had said earlier, but Jesus does not question her. Why?

I believe it is because Mary already had the Holy Spirit within her. Her faith was complete and she was led by the Spirit. And Jesus could see this so that he had no need to test her faith.

Martha in some ways though is perhaps the more heroic figure. She struggles with her faith. She sincerely wants to believe, but there is a film covering her eyes. She has not completely given up her attachments to the world. She tries to overcome this with reason, but reason can only take a soul so close to God's love. Reason too must be abandoned in the end. Then the scales will fall from the eyes, and the heart will be healed of its calluses.

Mary stands before the face of God and recognizes Him for who He is. She accepts what she is seeing with her soul and does not let reason stand in her way. Reason says that there was nothing Jesus could have done to keep Lazarus from dying. It casts a shadow of doubt over faith.

Reason is faulty. It can lead us to certain truths, but not to the eternal Truth.

When Mary speaks it is not she who is speaking, but the Spirit within her. Doubt has no place in her heart. When Mary walks her feet are guided by the same Spirit of Truth.

On Easter Sunday, Mary is guided by the Spirit to the tomb of Jesus. She cannot begin to understand what she sees there. Even her amazing faith is not ready to accept the reality which she encounters.

Her faith is so strong however, that she does not give up looking for the body of Jesus. When she first sees Him she is overcome with emotion and imagines Him to be the gardner. Her faith never falters though because she demands to see Him.

Finally, Jesus speaks her name: "Mary". And in a rush of supreme emotion and spiritual ecstasy, she recognizes Him.

She falls at His feet and says "Rabboni!"

Even Jesus had not expected this extreme devotion and He warns her not to touch Him because He has not yet risen to the Father. ("Noli me tangere." "Do not touch me.")

Mary goes running to the Apostles to tell them what she has seen. There is not even an inkling of doubt in her soul. And they begin to believe also.

Christ has risen!

Mary has been touched by the Fire of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has been burned. She has offered herself as a holocaust – a burnt offering.

Her soul is on Fire within. She may very well be the first Holy Saint of the New Covenant of God.

Saint Mary Magdalene,
sister of Martha and Lazarus,
companion of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross,
Ora pro nobis.
Pray for us.

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Where was Jesus when Peter and the beloved disciple first came running to the tomb? Could it be that he was always standing there, but they did not have the eyes of faith to see Him?

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(I imagine "Rabboni" to be a diminutive form of Rabbi – "Master" or "Teacher". As if to say "dear Master" or "beloved Teacher.")

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John 20:1-22

Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag'dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."

Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.

Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.

They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."

Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

Jesus said to her, "Mary."

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rab-bo'ni!" (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."

Mary Mag'dalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

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John 11:18-33

Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house.

Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him.

Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

18 comments:

  1. Hapy Easter to you and your readers! I am fascinated with the Lazarus story. Cyprus, where I am based now, is where the resurrected Lazarus came and lived out the rest of his life. In the St Lazarus Church catacombs, you can visit he casket which contains his bones. Its a very sacred place (obviously) but a lot of Christians around the world are not even aware that it exists. I have taken a German friend and a Phillipine friend - both were shocked that it is THE Lazarus of the New Testament!

    Marty

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  2. Happy Easter Michael! :)

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  3. Marty and Ride,
    Happy Easter to both of you!

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  4. Ride. I owe you some responses to your last few comments - especially the one about Planned Parenthood. I was very busy for a while and then I got sick with a bad cold last week. I'm feeling much better now. I had a sort of personal Easter Resurrection, because on Good Friday I felt terrible and could barely function or get out of bed. But today on Easter Sunday, I woke up feeling refreshed and full of new energy.

    On top of that we had an unexpectedly beautiful Easter Sunday morning. So I went out for a walk. I immediately came across my neighbor who has multiple sclerosis (I think) and has to use a wheel chair. I asked if I could walk with her and her dog. So we walked around the neighborhood for about a half hour or more and had a nice conversation about life in general. After a very hard winter with record snow falls in the Northeast U.S., it is a relief to be able to go outside without a coat and just go for a walk in the sunshine.

    This is the first time I have ever celebrated Lent. It was hard coming up with something to give up. I knew that I should give up spending so much time on the internet, but I was unable to come to that decision on my own. So at first I just gave up jelly on my morning toast. But then I got so busy with a personal project that I more or less gave up my obsession with the internet without even meaning to.

    In part though, that meant that I wasn't dedicating as much time to my blog. Sorry about that. It was also a time of reflection for me. Lent did not go at all according to plan. I planned to spend time praying everyday. But my rebellious spirit took over and I felt no desire to pray at all! Still I did maintain a quiet contemplation.

    I just tried to focus on loving God. I went through a personal crisis in the middle of Lent, but it almost miraculously resolved itself on Palm Sunday. I wanted to attend services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. But I was too sick to leave the house. I ended up watching the services on EWTN from the Vatican.

    I was watching one of the services and it was mostly in Latin. And I was almost about to turn it off, when I stopped trying to understand the words and just began to appreciate the sound of the speech - the way you would appreciate a piece of instrumental music. And I knew what the Gospel was saying anyway. Once in a while I would here something familiar like "Pontius Pilate" or "Mary Magdalene" and I could imagine more or less where in the account of the Passion the speaker was.

    And in a way, this was a more spiritual experience that brought me closer to God than if I had been hearing the words in my native English. It allowed me to contemplate and put my intellectual reasoning in the background. It allowed the words to penetrate into me similar to the way music penetrates the soul.

    I came into Lent with a sort of dread of the sacrifice required. I emerged with a renewed spirit, even though I can't say that I was able to follow the Church's teachings of fasting and praying and sacrifice. Maybe next year I won't be so intimidated by Lent and will be able to take better advantage of it in my personal Christian spiritual pilgrimage.

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  5. Marty. My personal fascination is with Mary Magdalene. I have read about how the Orthodox Church holds her in very high esteem. She is referred to as one of the "myrrh bearing women". There is an article I found which claims that La Magdalena is almost considered like another Apostle. I don't know if this is standard teaching in the Orthodox Church or a bit of feminist hyperbole. Here is the article which is very well written and informative:
    St. Mary Magdalene, Myrrh-Bearer and Equal of the Apostles

    It says this about the tradition of Easter Eggs:

    ***************
    Tradition relates that in Italy Mary Magdalene visited Emperor Tiberias and proclaimed to him Christ’s Resurrection. She gave him a red egg as a symbol of the Resurrection, a symbol of new life with the words: “Christ is Risen!” Then she told the emperor that in his Province of Judea, the unjustly condemned Jesus the Galilean, a holy man, a miracle worker, powerful before God and all mankind, had been executed at the instigation of the Jewish High Priests, and the sentence confirmed by the procurator appointed by Tiberias, Pontius Pilate.

    Thanks to Mary Magdalene the custom to give each other paschal eggs on the day of the Radiant Resurrection of Christ spread among Christians over all the world. On one ancient Greek manuscript, written on parchment, kept in the monastery library of St. Athanasius near Thessalonica, is a prayer read on the day of Holy Pascha for the blessing of eggs and cheese. In it is indicated that the abbot, in passing out the blessed eggs says to the brethren: “Thus have we received from the holy Fathers, who preserved this custom from the very time of the holy Apostles, therefore the holy Equal of the Apostles Mary Magdalene first showed believers the example of this joyful offering.”
    ***************

    I had no idea about the tradition of Lazarus coming to Cyprus. I don't think it was mentioned even when the Pope visited Cyprus last year. Of course we know that St. Paul visited Cyprus. Marty, can I come visit you one day in Cyprus?

    BTW, tradition states that Mary Magdalene's life ended in Marseilles, France. I visited there many years ago.

    I have been contemplating lately the nature of time. Certainly for God, time does not have the same meaning as for us humans. He created the world and lives in eternity. There, time as we know it does not exist.

    I think there is evidence in the Gospels that Jesus conquered both time and space. He knew the past of the woman at the well. He saw Nathanael under the fig tree even though he was not physically present. Certainly he has the gift of prophecy, but he is much more than just a prophet.

    In the case of Lazarus, it seems he was able to make time stand still or else reverse time. Everyone warned that the body of Lazarus would be decomposed and "stink". But instead Lazarus was brought back to life after four days. I wonder if Lazarus experienced anything during this time. Did he have a dream or did he just not remember anything? The Gospel does not tell us one way or another.

    I compare this to the private revelation of Marino Restrepo that I wrote about recently. Marty, what did you think about his account of seeing God in the afterlife? Do you think Lazarus had a similar experience. What do the traditions in Cyprus have to say about this?

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  6. Dear Michael, of course, please visit Cyprus. I am always telling my US friends, some of which I have been communicating with for over 10 years, but never met in person, to come here...I am still waiting!

    In fact, I believe that there are so many wonderful religious sites to visit here (as the Pope discovered) but religious tourism is still quite slow moving for Cyprus.

    I would like to comment fully on the whole subject discussed here re: resurrection and life after death...I will do it in another, more comprehensive message.

    P.S. This Sunday is the 'Sunday of Thomas' in Orthodoxy...officially Easter is not thought of as over until this Sunday passes!

    Marty

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  7. Dear Marty,

    Thank you for your very gracious invitation to visit Cyprus. Who knows what plans God has for me.

    Please do give us your thoughts on resurrection and life after death. Feel free to write the reply on your blog and provide a link if that is easier.

    The "Sunday of Thomas" must refer to the doubting Apostle Thomas.

    The Sunday after Easter was declared to be Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope John Paul II. The article I just posted after this one talks about Divine Mercy. I don't know what that Sunday was called before that. There has always been the "octave of Easter" which is the full week from Sunday to Sunday.

    In the Catholic Church we also celebrate the Season of Easter which lasts for 50 days until Pentecost. Although in practice, I think most American Catholics only associate Easter with the one Sunday.

    I know that the Orthodox Church has many beautiful traditions and I think there is more of a tendency to uphold tradition. Whereas many Roman Catholics in the U.S. seem to want nothing to do with tradition.

    This year, the Sunday after Easter will mark the beatification of John Paul II. Sorry, but for me it is too early to begin calling him "the great". Where is the sense of historical perspective? And why would anyone in the Catholic Church want to honor someone by calling him or her "great". The highest honorific title that one can receive as a Christian is not to be called "great", but to be to called a humble servant of God. (Look at St. Therese who called herself "the little one".)

    I'm very sorry, but calling JPII "the great" so soon after his ending his earthly pilgrimage smacks of a cult of personality. The Church is the body of Christ and if JPII was a great Pope then it is because the Holy Spirit worked through him. I hope that after this, the process of declaring JPII a saint is slowed down considerably.

    Sorry again, but this practice of referring to JPII as "the great" is spreading rather rapidly (fanned by EWTN hosts and George Wiegel) and I would rather see a stop put to it right away rather than letting it continue to fester. Let future generations makes this determination. We who are living in the present are blind of God's plan for our lives. Only in the distant future does it begin to become clear. We have a great Pope right now named Benedict XVI and I think that my fellow Catholics should focus their papal devotion on the current occupier of the Chair of Peter.

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  8. I have now watched the videos on the Marino Restrepo post. It does sound like he experienced some kind of hallucination through his disassociation from trauma. However, I say this without meaning to imply that what he says is not valid, or did not happen to him in the way he recounts.
    The whole area of 'life after death' is rather a difficult one for me to discuss on my blog. I have been battling for sometime now to recount events surrounding my brother's death as it is (obviously) personally traumatic for me and purging certain things from my pyche has taken me literally years. That said, I must admit the following, using this medium of your blog... I personally believe in an afterlife because of several 'incidents' in my own family where there seems to have been 'contact'...Several times my brother came close to death, before his actual murder...as this is what its been called. My mother had also been quite ill on several occasions in the past and testifies to visions of the Virgin Mary. She believes that her visitations are 'real events' though they took place while she was asleep or under anesthetic in hospital. The strangest event that I believe points to some kind of truth is the following...
    About 20 years ago she was very sick in hospital after an extremely complicated 6 hour operation. While asleep afterwards she says she dreamed that she was on a road and to the left was a big city and motorway/highway with speeding cars zooming by...on the right was a quiet country path lined with gigantic Cypress trees leading off into the distance...as she stood on the road our neighbour, an older lady whose name I cannot remember, appeared walking along side her. My mother asked her, 'Where are you going?' she replied that she was going to follow the country path. My mother said that she wanted to follower her too. The old lady replied, 'No, you must go that way', and points to the busy motorway and city, 'I am going this way, you're not coming this way yet, goodbye.' With this she walked off up the country lane through the trees, and my mother stopped to look at the city and then woke up.
    We were in the Hospital room when she told us her 'dream' and we were all just relieved that she had recovered from her dangerous operation. My father waited a while before informing her that on that very same night the old lady neighbour had actually died. When everyone heard this they crossed themselves and said that she must have met her on the road, in between, life and death. I believe it to this day.
    My brother was still quite young and innocent - not a kid - but an innocent, when he died. I dreamed of him as a messenger on a bike coming to visit us and my mother saw a vision of him in military uniform, she said 'In Gods army'...Of course all of this could be our own psychological way of manifesting our beliefs/hopes/wishes/feelings but it is very strange that our brains should do this. As you know, I don't believe much in coincidence, I am quite religious although I do not go often to Church, I am a believer and have friends from many different faiths also so I have learned a little bit about what other religions teach about the afterlife. Cont..

    Marty
    aka Marie

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  9. cont..

    In Orthodoxy they are quite strick about how to bury the body and what you can and can't do. For instance, a priest will not give the blessing at the funeral of a suicide victim (which I find to be quite off)

    I've stopped going to a lot of Orthodox funerals - well the burying part - because there have been occasions when they go VERY orthodox....what does this mean? Well, they open the casket and literally drop the body into the ground, then you are supposed to drop some soil yourself over it as you pass. I felt the earth shudder under my feet the last time and swore I wouldn't set foot again...so to speak.

    ..
    On Easter Sunday the bread that is baked and brought to the church for Holy Communion has red dyed eggs baked into it. The Priest will bring out a basket and hand you a red egg at the end of the service. All household colour their eggs for Easter and play the game of seeing who's egg will crack first by tapping each other's. If you'res stays undamaged you have luck for the rest of the year (slightly pagan in origin I'm sure!)
    The holy flame is said to be the flame taken from Jerusalem mass, put on a plane, and flown back to Greece and Cyprus and the rest of the Orthodox churches in the area...I am a bit of a skeptic about this though...I'm sure by midnight, the flame I received from the Bishop's candles last Sunday didn't come from Jerusalem as they said (and showed on the news)...

    Thanks for the opportunity to write this Michael, I hope this is not too much.

    Marty
    aka Marie

    P.S. The Pope, I agree with you. It seems far too soon and almost unnecessary to be exhuming bodies and beatifying right now.

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  10. Hi Marty. Sorry that I have been offline and am just now seeing your comments. I had a problem with the power cord to my MacBook. I managed to fix it on my own by soldering a new connection. Right now I'm not able to reply to your comments, but I promise that later today I will spend the time to read carefully what you have written and give a thoughtful response. Michael.

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  11. Marty. Oh well after reading your comments, I am compelled to drop everything I'm doing and give at least a partial response. The vision of Marino Restrepo stays with me. This morning as I was coming out of sleep (before I got up and before I saw your messages), I was lying in bed and began to think once more of his vision.

    I believe their is a truth in it. St. Catherine of Sienna wrote extensively about Purgatory and his vision seems to agree with her writings. The children of Fatima were shown a vision of Hell by the Virgin Mary and were given the "Fatima prayer" by her: "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy Mercy."

    I am beginning to believe that after death we are faced with God's judgement, but that we have a part to play in our fate. It seems that God offers us His Mercy, but those who have never sought God's mercy on earth are not likely to seek it in the after-life either.

    I have been reading about St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. They are Catholic mystics who were able to have visions of God through prayer. They created their own vivid imagery to try to communicate in words what is fundamentally ineffable.

    And so I tried to come up with a image of what I was imagining this experience to be like. Here is what appeared in my thoughts this morning, while lying half-awake and half-asleep.

    i imagined a sort of island paradise surrounded by a beautiful tropical ocean. And I imagined "waking up" in this ocean. And seeing in the distance the island. The water was too deep to stand up. And there was a current pushing out away from the shore.

    One person finds himself in this situation and swims desperately towards the shore, but the current is so strong that he barely makes any progress and becomes exhausted. Then a sort of pirate ship appears on the horizon. And a row boat is dropped from that ship and approaches the person. Although he may suspect that the pirates will not treat him well, he is so thankful to be rescued from drowning that he accepts their offer of help and is brought on the rowboat and taken back to the pirate ship. Their most likely he is made a slave of the pirates.

    Another person finds himself in the same situation. But he has been accustomed to going to Mass and receiving communion and he has gone often to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession). He sees the paradise island in the distance and feels the warm tropical water that surrounds him. The scene seems vaguely familiar. Rather than panic, he puts his trust in Jesus and lets himself be swept up by the current. The water is so salty that his body easily floats, and so he lies on his back and stares into the tranquil blue sky as he is carried off by the currents. Dolphins appear to accompany him.

    After a while he sees that the water has become very shallow and he is able to stand up on a sandbar which lies just beneath the surface of the crystal clear azure waters. He walks along the sandbar in the direction of the island and his able to come within a short distance of the shore. From there it is a short swim to the palm tree lined beach of the island paradise.

    One person turns away from God's mercy, while another is attracted to it. Perhaps another who is tempted to turn away is helped by the prayers of those who love him. I believe that is the case of Marino Restrepo. On his own, he would have turned away from God's mercy, but because of the prayers of his family he was able to overcome this temptation.

    (More to come.)

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  12. My dear sweet Marty. You are looking at the world through the pragmatic eyes of Thomas before the risen Christ appears to him. Then he gains the eyes of faith in the ultimate humbling experience which he must relive over and over again throughout eternity. And yet it is with a purpose because he stands as an example for us, especially we "moderns" who imagine that we know the truth of the world when what we really know is only an infinitesimally small sliver of God's eternal truth.

    We need to see the world through a lens cleansed by Mary Magdalene's weeping tears to find our eyes of faith. She saw what the others failed to see, the risen Christ emerging from the tomb. It was not a "vision" as some of the disciples thought, but the real physical body of the Son of God. And yet it was a "vision" in one sense that it was a perception that was only shared with a select few that would be capable of appreciating and understanding its full profound meaning and consequences.

    What would have happened if Mary Magdalene had touched Jesus at that moment? I believe she would have died and been carried into heaven with Christ and then she would not have been able to bear witness to what she saw.

    Your mother was similarly chastised in her vision by the old neighbor lady. "Do not follow me!" she said. It was a warning, just like Christ's warning to Mary not to touch him. It was not her time and she was called to be a witness like Mary of the reality of another world, a metaphysical world, a world which is an extension of our physical world but which has a separate reality.

    I read somewhere that the world of nature that we see is a window on God's eternity. Having read that I rushed outdoors to catch a glimpse of God's eternal truth - like peering through a crack in a fence to get a small sense of what lies on the other side.

    You say that your brother appeared to you as a messenger. Since I assume that you speak Greek, you should know that the English word "angel" comes from the Greek "angelos" which means messenger. The angels are the messengers of God. Try to remember what the message was that your brother was carrying. It could be important for your life.

    Your mother's vision of your brother as part of God's army seems to confirm that he has taken an angelic form. The term "heavenly hosts" that we use in English refers to an army of angels. I only recently came to realize that. I knew the term referred to angels, but I didn't have any idea that "host" comes from the Latin word "hostis" for army. (This is also the Latin root for the English word "hostile".)

    We should be somewhat skeptical of visions, but we should also be open to them. We should put them to the test and if they appear to be true, then we should try to understand their deeper meaning.

    (continued)

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  13. (continued from above)

    On the issue of other religions, I believe that Christianity is the full truth of God. Other religions may contain a portion of the truth, but not the whole truth. I believe that everything before the Resurrection points towards it and that everything after it flows from it.

    We are living in the last days, but since for God a "day" could be thousands of years we do not know when Christ will come again. We are called to maintain a constant "vigil" and to be always prepared for His return. I believe our lives are a pilgrimage that provide us the opportunity to prepare ourselves for the after-life. If we come to know God here on earth then we will be more prepared to face him in the after-life.

    This was, I think, a common perception in earlier times, but with the rise of a "modern" and "scientific" view of the world this common wisdom has been lost. We see this earlier view of the world reflected in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" when Romeo is wooing Juliet and the whole conversation revolves around the theme of pilgrims and saints.

    Sorry, that it is taking me so long to respond to you. I would like to hear more about your brother if you feel like sharing. What kind of person was he? Did he fall under the influence of bad people?

    (P.S. I still owe you a response to your last comment regarding Orthodox traditions.)

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  14. Hi Michael!
    I have been very busy as well with my finals this week, but I read most for last articles. :)
    From my experience with faith I have learned that the closer you are getting to God, the greater temptations are. I'm doing better now though, I go to church to renew my vows every Sunday. Just like a couple would spend time together to not drift away.
    And I need it, there is nothing that makes me happier than being in peace and in communion with God. I'm a sinner and and far from perfect, but I'm making an effort to stay in balance and live the way He want us to do.
    Like you, Lent went not quite as I though it would be, but I'll work harder to make it a even more special time next year. Lent was a challenging time, it's strange how temptation whispers to your ear and say; no one is going to know, is not as bad as you think. How manipulative can it be! so I try to get closer to God and his teachings to get courage.
    I have been invitated many times to other religions or Christian churchs, not Catholic. The feeling that I have with the Roman Catholic church is unspeakable, sacred. I have made an habit to pray for the holy souls in purgatory and come closer to Mary, she is our mother and a protector.
    Mary Magdalene is also dear in my thoughts, how fervent her faith was and the nature of her sins that were forgiven.
    And I agree with you, Latin is beautiful. Because I'm a native Spanish speaker I can understand many words. I'll try to get involved in the choir of the church, I love to sing in Latin

    I'll tell you something that troubles me, how much of an occultic influence there is on the Catholic church. It said that many for our rituals were taken from Paganist rituals. What are your thoughts about it? :)

    Ride.

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  15. Ride. Our priest said that Lent was a time when the temptations of Satan increase. It seemed that way to me also. I feel like you that the more I come to accept God, the more I am faced with temptations and trials that test my faith. I too am hoping to prepare better for Lent next year.

    I would not pay too much attention to people that attack the Church by saying that Catholic rituals are based on Pagan rituals. At times these claims are completely fabricated, and other times they are exaggerations or simplifications of the truth.

    As I said before, I believe the resurrection is the pivotal moment in human history. Everything before it, points towards it. And everything after, flows as a consequence from it. So naturally there are signs in previous pagan religions that point toward the coming of Christ. And there are truths in other religions that are a reflection of the truth that Jesus taught us.

    But to fully understand and appreciate all of God's creation and to make sense of it requires knowledge and understanding of Christ, which is what the Church gives us through scripture, Church teaching, and the examples and teachings of the saints.

    Once, about a year ago, I was at Mass and I felt the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It was at that moment that I realized why we were kneeling during Mass. It was because Christ, our Lord, was present. It was that moment that sparked my return to the Church and my desire to devote my self more fully to understanding the teachings of the Church so that I could live my life in conformity with her teachings.

    It is a sacrifice, but on the other hand it brings great joy and above all a feeling that there is a purpose to life. Without God in our lives, life has no meaning. That is what we see today. People living their lives in "the pursuit of happiness" but not understanding where true happiness comes from. So it turns into a search for pleasure and accumulating material objects. And addictions to everything from thrill-seeking, to drugs, to sex, to money, to power.

    The greatest fear of most people is to be alone in a quiet room. Because then they have to face God. They can no longer run away and hide. They are standing naked before God like Adam and Eve and they are ashamed.

    But the message of the Gospel is that God's mercy is infinite. We only have to ask to be forgiven. But because of pride or just plain foolishness we refuse. And yet someday, at the moment of death, we will face God's judgement. We had better be prepared for that day by fostering a spirit of humility within ourselves.

    (continued)

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  16. (continued from above)

    Recently I have been thinking about what my relationship with God should be like. Should I think of God as a friend, a teacher, a lord and master, a father? I think that a little bit of all of these is required. But there is the question of when and how and why and under what circumstances one type of relationship with God takes precedence over another.

    This is important to me because I want to learn to pray to God, which is to say I want to learn to speak to God. And if I am going to speak with Him and have a dialogue, a conversation, then I will need to know how to address Him and what my relationship should be to Him.

    Interestingly Pope Benedict XVI has just started a teaching on prayer. He will be devoting his Wednesday audiences to discuss the subject. This Wednesday was the first one and he began with the quote from Luke 11:1, "Lord, teach us to pray."

    You can find the Pope's catechesis from May 4, 2011 at Zenit:
    http://www.zenit.org/article-32482?l=english

    Here is an excerpt:
    "In the forthcoming catecheses, approaching sacred Scripture, the great tradition of the fathers of the Church, the teachers of spirituality, and the liturgy, we will learn to live yet more intensely our relationship with the Lord, as though in a "school of prayer." We know well, in fact, that prayer cannot be taken for granted: We must learn how to pray, almost as if acquiring this art anew; even those who are very advanced in the spiritual life always feel the need to enter the school of Jesus to learn to pray with authenticity."

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  17. Hello Michael, I have taken a long time to get back here again. I had written a comment in response to the above but you will not believe that the same evening I became quite ill and had a serious health scare which caused me to go into 'shock' for 48 hours. My illness then made my mother worry so much she also ended up in hospital...What can I say, it has been a truely terrible 2 weeks and I am still not 100% feeling better. Three Doctors cannot say what exactly is wrong with me and I have more tests to undergo as I am still in some pain. I ask for your prayers. (At one stage I thought that I might die and became very terrified) The following day, after seeing a doctor, I came across an evangelical preacher in the middle of town holding a plaque with the words... 'Where would you go if you died tomorrow?'
    Surreal I think is what they call these things!

    Marty

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  18. Hi Marty. I hope you are feeling better. I will certainly pray for you. I have been thinking about you a lot. I have been learning a little bit about Orthodox Icons and realize that I am quite spiritually attracted to them.

    I have been blessed with excellent health, but I realize that at any time I could get ill or have an accident. I truly believe that we will come before God after we die. Go to Mass as often as you can. I understand the Orthodox use the term Divine Liturgy. I believe this prepares us for meeting God, because we learn to ask for God's forgiveness for our sins.

    Also, take good care of your Mother. I'm sure she is praying for you.

    Be careful of doctors and all their tests. Ask God to guide you and give you the gift of healing.

    Remember that pain is the first sign of healing. When our body feels pain it rushes all its resources to the location of the pain to begin the healing process. In this sense, pain is a gift from God. Try to feel God's message coming through the pain and His Mercy. And try to join your pain to the pain of Christ on the Cross. Let your pain take you to the foot of the Cross besides His Mother Mary. Let her comfort you. Like a mother kissing her child's wound and "making it better".

    God bless you Marty,
    Michael

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