O Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee, by the Precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in the garden, deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that soul amongst them all who is most destitute of spiritual aid; and vouchsafe to bring it to Thy glory, there to praise and bless Thee for ever. Amen.
For more than two thousand years, the Christian saints have had great influence worldwide. Now, this inspiring collection of biographies reveals the legendary stories, little-known facts, and inspiring beliefs of some of the best loved saints. Full color throughout, each profile includes a biography with patronage and feast dates, along with prayers both to and about the saint.
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I am thankful before You, living and enduring King, for you have mercifully restored my soul within me. Great is Your faithfulness.
Mother of God
The early Church Fathers received and reflected on Paul’s interpretation of the importance of the role of Mary in salvation. St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote a letter to the Ephesians as he was being carried off to Rome to be martyred around the year 100 A.D. In it he says, “For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan, both from the seed of David and of the Holy Spirit.” St. Ignatius points out not only that Jesus was conceived by Mary, but that this conception was “according to God’s plan.” God’s eternal plan for salvation included Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ.
In the following paragraph, St. Ignatius says “the virginity of Mary, her giving birth, and the death of the Lord are three mysteries to be loudly proclaimed”. Ignatius considered Mary’s virginity and motherhood to be in the same category as the death of out Lord! Why is Mary’s virginity and motherhood so important to St. Ignatius? The salvation worked by Jesus Christ required him to pay an infinite debt on behalf of man, and that requires Him to be true God and true man. Jesus, as God, could pay an infinite debt by His death because He has infinite worth, and Jesus, as a man, could pay that debt on behalf of humanity because He was a true man. But if Mary didn’t conceive virginally, Jesus was not true God, and if Mary wasn’t Jesus’ mother, Jesus was not a true man. Therefore, for humanity to be saved according to God’s plan, Mary must be the Mother of God.
The concept of Mary being the mother of Jesus who was true God and true man carried into the later centuries with the Greek word Θεοτόκος, which means “God-bearer” or “mother of God.” One of its earliest uses was int he prayer dated as early as the middle of the 2nd century, the “Sub Tuum Praesidium” (which is still prayed by Catholics today!):
We fly to thy patronage,
Despise not our petitions in our necessities,
But deliver us always from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
Great saints, theologians, and bishops continued to use the term. St. Alexander, bishop of Alexandria and a key figure at the Council of Nicaea, wrote in 320 A.D. that Jesus Christ “bore a body not in appearance but in truth, derived from the Mother of God.” And St. Athanasius in 373 A.D. reflected upon “the Word begotten of the Father on high” who “inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly and eternally, is he that is born in time here blow, of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.” And the term “Mother of God” became canonized in the doctrinal vocabulary of all Christians at the Council of Ephesus in 431 when it stated that Jesus was “according to his divinity, born of the Father before all ages, and in these last days, according to his humanity, born of the Virgin Mary for us and for our salvation . . . A union was made of the two natures . . . In accord with this understanding of the unconfused union we confess that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God.”
from: Catholic East Texas
“And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.”
—St. Justin Martyr
Belief in the Actual Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, as described by St. Justin Martyr
“And this food is called among us Eucharistia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, ‘This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;’ and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, ‘This is My blood;’ and gave it to them alone.”
—St. Justin Martyr
This taken from the good catholic website—goodcatholic.com
The Roman Catholic love and respect for the Virgin Mary divides it from other sects of Christianity. Mary is not only revered as the Mother of God but also as the Mother of all Humanity, and her image continually watches over every aspect in the daily life of Catholic countries. She is credited with working miracles through pictures, statues, and sacred earthly places. She is the inspiration of much of the world’s greatest music, art, and architectural works. Her spiritual gifts are recognized in the East and both Hindus and Buddhists refer to her as Mother Mary. Muslims revere her as the mother of a great prophet and she is the only woman with her own chapter in the Koran. As a human being Mary is able to relate directly to the major and minor sufferings of mankind. For this reason she is not prayed to as a goddess, but rather, called on by Catholics to aid them in their prayers. It is thought that she shares her constant flow of grace with those who ask, bringing them closer to God. Thomas Merton wrote, “Mary does not rule us from without, but from within. She does not change us by changing the world around us, but she changes the world around us by first changing our own inner lives.”
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Today’s feast celebrates Mary’s Assumption into heaven. It is one of three feasts of Mary that are Holy Days of Obligation for Catholics in the United States. January 1 is the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, and December 8 is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven has long been held as an important Catholic belief. The belief was not defined as dogma, however, until 1950 by Pope Pius XII. The dogma teaches that Mary, who was without sin, was taken, body and soul, into the glory of heaven.
The Gospel for this holy day recalls Mary’s actions after the announcement of Jesus’ birth by the Angel Gabriel. Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is also with child. Elizabeth greets Mary with full recognition of the roles they and their unborn children will play in God’s plan for salvation. Mary responds to Elizabeth’s greeting with her song of praise, the Magnificat. Both women recall and echo God’s history of showing favor upon the people of Israel. Mary’s Magnificat, in particular, echoes the song of praise offered by Hannah, the mother of Samuel.
The Gospel for this day reminds us that Mary’s Assumption into heaven is best understood with regard for the full spectrum of Catholic beliefs about the person of Christ and the person of Mary. Only Mary, who was born without stain of original sin—the Immaculate Conception—could give birth to Christ, who is fully God and fully human. This is called the Immaculate Conception. Because of Mary’s role in God’s plan of salvation, she does not suffer from the effects of sin, which are death and decay. Mary is the first to receive the fullness of the redemption that her son has won for all of humanity. The Church, therefore, recognizes Mary as the sign of the salvation promised to all.
Today’s Gospel highlights Mary’s faith. Mary’s faith enabled her to recognize the work of God in her people’s history and in her own life. Her openness to God allowed God to work through her so that salvation might come to all. Mary is a model and symbol of the Church. May we be like Mary, open and cooperative in God’s plan of salvation.
reprint from loyolapress.com
For more than two thousand years, the legends and stories of the Christian saints have greatly affected the course of Western civilization. The saints have influenced our holidays, our school systems, the boundaries of nations, our poetry, music, and visual arts. They have been great philosophers, uneducated savants, mystics, administrators, farmers, housewives, and soldiers, hailing from every social strata of society.
Every town and country has saints that are familiar to the local residents and obscure to the rest of us. Since it is estimated that there are more than ten thousand formally recognized saints, it was possible to profile only a very few for this book. Instead of brief biographies and images of many significant saints, we opted to go into detail about a varied handful that have an ongoing influence in modern life. The saints we have chosen are in no way the most important or exalted; many are extremely popular, some less well known. They bring with them a mix of personalities and ethnic cultures that reflect the makeup of today’s diverse society.
For this book, we have divided the first two thousand years of Christianity into ancient and modern time periods. The ancient saints span from prehis-tory to the year A.D. 1000. These saints tend to have more legendary aspects to their stories, resulting from the strong oral tradition in which they thrived. However, the modern saints are well documented by contemporary historical texts. These comprise the second thousand years. Some of these saints have influenced whole nations while others, through their particular state of life, encourage us to have a more personal relationship with them.
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