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Mary, the first Christian

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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/15 23:20:52 (permalink)
Pope celebrates Mass, tells Lourdes pilgrims Mary leads to Christ
Catholic News Service
September 15, 2008


Pope Benedict XVI swings a censer over the altar during a Mass for the sick at the Marian sanctuaries of Lourdes, France, Sept. 15. The pope was in Lourdes primarily to mark the 150th anniversary of Mary's appearances to St. Bernadette Soubirous. (CNS/Reuters)

LOURDES, France (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass for 150,000 international pilgrims at the Marian sanctuaries of Lourdes and told them that humble prayer to Mary was a true path to Christ. The pope said Mary had appeared at Lourdes to invite everyone who suffers, physically or spiritually, to "raise their eyes toward the cross of Jesus" and recognize a love that is stronger than death or sin. "The power of love is stronger than the evil that threatens us," he said Sept. 14. The pope traveled to Lourdes, a town in the French Pyrenees, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Mary's appearances to St. Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl. After days of rain and cool weather, sunshine broke through the clouds over the pilgrims who filled a grassy field near the sanctuaries. They applauded as the pontiff processed to an altar covered with a sail-shaped canopy. In his sermon, the pope placed himself among the pilgrim population, saying he, too, had come to pray at the feet of Mary, "eager to learn from her alongside little Bernadette."

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/briefs/cns/20080915.htm#head6
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/15 23:33:31 (permalink)
Pontiff Explains Why Mary Is Close to Humanity
Sin Divides, But Purity Brings Near, He Says

zenit.org
September 14, 2008

LOURDES, France, SEPT. 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Virgin Mary's special protection from sin does not make her far from the rest of humanity, but rather draws her closer to us, Benedict XVI says.

The Pope affirmed this today from Lourdes, where he is marking the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous. In his address before praying the traditional midday Angelus, the Holy Father said the privilege of the Immaculate Conception, "which sets [Mary] apart from our common condition, does not distance her from us, but on the contrary, it brings her closer."

He explained: "While sin divides, separating us from one another, Mary's purity makes her infinitely close to our hearts, attentive to each of us and desirous of our true good. You see it here in Lourdes, as in all Marian shrines; immense crowds come thronging to Mary's feet to entrust to her their most intimate thoughts, their most heartfelt wishes.

"That which many, either because of embarrassment or modesty, do not confide to their nearest and dearest, they confide to her who is all pure, to her Immaculate Heart: with simplicity, without frills, in truth. Before Mary, by virtue of her very purity, man does not hesitate to reveal his weakness, to express his questions and his doubts, to formulate his most secret hopes and desires."

The Pontiff said that Mary thus shows man the way to come to God. "She teaches us to approach him in truth and simplicity," he said. "Thanks to her, we discover that the Christian faith is not a burden: It is like a wing which enables us to fly higher, so as to take refuge in God's embrace."

Benedict XVI went on to note that the grace of the Immaculate Conception is not given to Mary as a merely "personal grace," but is rather "a grace for all, a grace given to the entire people of God."

"In Mary," he continued, "the Church can already contemplate what she is called to become. Every believer can contemplate, here and now, the perfect fulfillment of his or her own vocation. May each of you always remain full of thanksgiving for what the Lord has chosen to reveal of his plan of salvation through the mystery of Mary: a mystery in which we are involved most intimately since, from the height of the cross which we celebrate and exalt today, it is revealed to us through the words of Jesus himself that his Mother is our Mother.

"Inasmuch as we are sons and daughters of Mary, we can profit from all the graces given to her; the incomparable dignity that came to her through her Immaculate Conception shines brightly over us, her children."

http://www.zenit.org/article-23624?l=english
post edited by Sophie - 2008/09/15 23:39:53
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/15 23:46:33 (permalink)
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But in terms of ordaining women to the priesthood? There are two streams of consciousness in the hierarchy as I see it: 1) one group continues to believe that women are inferior to men and therefore cannot be priests. 2) the  other group would like to do something about correcting the picture but because they are theologically convinced that there is meaning to be found in Jesus's choice of twelve male apostles believe they would be going against Jesus's will if they permitted women to be ordained as priests.  This stream does not think that women are inferior.  It just believes that Jesus's choice must be followed.

It is this group in particular, I believe, who turn to Mary as a model for possibilities. Pope John Paul II used to talk about her in terms of co-redemptrix.  I personally think it is a wonderful idea if  her role as co-redemptrix is applied as a model for all women and men  and not just women.


 
I agree that some people believe in this argument because the Vatican says so and not because it makes any sense or has a solid justification.
 
I do not believe that the men in the Vatican really believe these arguments are valid. They just are not that stupid.
 
These arguments are a deliberate attempt by men to preserve their special status in keeping the priesthood as a male preserve. These men want it that way and they will devise any lame excuse and use the Virgin Mary as a “token woman” in an attempt to present a non-discriminatory image.
 
They even have the audacity to put the blame for their discrimination against women on Jesus Christ. It is just disgraceful.
 
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/15 23:52:46 (permalink)
Pope in France: A lesson in 'Marian cool'
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
The National Catholic Reporter
September 15, 2008

 
Pope Benedict XVI prays at the Grotto of the Apparitions at the Marian sanctuaries of Lourdes, France, Sept. 13. (CNS photo/Philippe Noiset te, Catholic Press Photo)
 
As an orator, Pope Benedict XVI generally does not, unlike his predecessor John Paul II, mine his own biography. For John Paul, the dramatic events of his life were staples of his public rhetoric. Not so with Benedict, who prefers to emphasize the song rather than the singer.

It was therefore particularly striking that one could hear faint echoes of Joseph Ratzinger’s past in his final address at Lourdes this morning, which came in an open-air Mass on a chilly morning outside the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Mass was dedicated to the sick and disabled who flock to Lourdes, and many in the crowd arrived in wheelchairs or on crutches.

When the pope said that seeking the loving smile of the Blessed Virgin Mary “is not an act of devotional or outmoded sentimentality,” that it is not “pious infantilism,” he was not merely addressing attitudes he knows to be widespread in post-Vatican II Catholicism. He was also indirectly opening a window onto his own spiritual journey – because these are indictments of Marian piety to which the pope himself was once tempted.

In that light, it’s an interesting exercise to discern where Benedict has come from with regard to Mary, and more importantly, where he has arrived.

In an interview in 2000, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger recalled that as a young priest and theologian, he was suspicious of Marian devotion.

Influenced by the great liturgical pioneers of the early 20th century, especially Romano Guardini, he worried that para-liturgical phenomena such as Marian devotions amounted to distractions from the centrality of Christ. Moreover, coming of age in post-war Germany, the young Ratzinger was enormously sensitive to the ecumenical dimension of Christian life, and he knew that many Protestants find the Catholic emphasis on Mary unbiblical and, frankly, a flirtation with paganism.

When Ratzinger wrote his 1964 commentary on the second session of Vatican II, his most caustic language came in lampooning proposals from some pious bishops to assign Mary new dogmatic titles, such as “Co-Redemptrix,” or to consecrate the entire world to Mary. Such ideas, the young Ratzinger wrote, did not say much about the “theological enlightenment” of the prelates who floated them.

In the four decades since, Benedict XVI has covered a great deal of ground. Today he feels deep affection for Mary, which he made clear this morning.

Falling in love with Mary, Benedict said, is the aspiration of “those who have attained the highest degree of spiritual maturity, and know precisely how to acknowledge their weakness and poverty before God.”

Perhaps the most telling line from this prodigious academic, for whom the written and spoken word is all-important, was the following: “When speech can no longer find the right words, the need arises for a loving presence.

We seek then the closeness not only of those who share the same blood or are linked to us by friendship, but the closeness of those who are intimately bound to us by faith. Who would be more intimate to us than Christ and his holy Mother, the Immaculate One?”

One might say this “discovery” of Mary reflects Benedict’s pastoral side, his growing realization that people need to be comforted, not just catechized. It also reflects a conviction, forged in ecclesiastical battles over the years, that what Benedict once called “simple believers” often have a keener sense of the faith than erudite theological experts.

Yet Benedict XVI remains a man of reason, so even in his most tender moments of longing for Mary’s maternal smile, his critical faculties never quite go off-line. While he has moved closer to popular devotion, it is nonetheless a “purified” devotion, one in which the thaumaturgical dimension is deliberately soft-pedaled.

Lourdes attracts six million pilgrims annually for a variety of reasons, but the reputed wonder-working power of its springs is an enormous part of the appeal. While the church has officially recognized only 66 miracles at Lourdes (the most recent occurred in 1987), officials have discretely adopted the language of “phenomenal events” to refer to the thousands of reports of cures that pour in each year.

It’s noteworthy, therefore, that Benedict repeatedly, though gently, insisted in Lourdes that miracles are not the heart of the matter. Speaking on Saturday, the pope indirectly cautioned against overheated expectations of divine intervention.

“How many come here to see it with the hope – secretly perhaps – of receiving some miracle,” the pope said. “Then, on the return journey, having had a spiritual experience of life in the church, they change their outlook upon God, upon others and upon themselves.”

Today, shortly before he administered the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the pope returned to the point.

First, he argued that the real significance of the waters that Mary revealed to Bernadette 150 years ago is metaphorical.

“From [Mary’s] womb, rivers of living water have poured forth to irrigate human history,” the pope said. “The spring that Mary pointed out to Bernadette here in Lourdes is the humble sign of this spiritual reality.”

Later, Benedict reflected on what it means to regard Christ as a “healer.”

 
Pope Benedict XVI prepares to anoint a nun with holy oil during a Mass for the sick at the Marian sanctuaries of Lourdes, France, Sept. 15. (CNS photo/Regis Duvignau, Reuters)

“Christ is not a healer in the manner of the world,” the pope said – meaning that physical cure is not the point.

“In order to heal us, he does not remain outside the suffering that is experienced,” the pope said. “He eases it by coming to dwell with the one stricken by illness, to bear it and to live with him. Christ’s presence comes to break the isolation which pain induces. Man no longer bears his burden alone. As a suffering member of Christ, he is conformed to Christ in his self-offering to the father.”

Benedict encouraged the sick and disabled to “turn to Mary,” not in the sense of seeking immediate cure, but rather for “the strength to fight against sickness in support of life,” as well as “the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God.”

None of this means that Benedict scorns a prayerful hope for physical signs, but it is clearly not where he places the accent.

That caution is reflected in news out of Rome today, for example, that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is drawing up new, and reportedly more stringent, guidelines for the approval of alleged apparitions. (In part, the move is a response to the sensation touched off in Italy when Bishop Girolamo Grillo of Civitavecchia, the port north of Rome, seemed to endorse reports that a statue of the Madonna owned by a local family had wept tears of blood.) It’s also evident in the policy of the CDF, adopted during Ratzinger’s years as prefect, of maintaining a discrete silence about the reported apparitions in Medjugorje.

John Paul II was arguably a bit more inclined to see the wondrous.

Famously, he believed that the Virgin changed the flight path of a bullet on May 13, 1981, when Mehmet Ali Agca fired at him from close range in St. Peter’s Square. That day happened to be the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and John Paul would later travel to Fatima to place the bullet doctors removed from his body before the statue of the Virgin to thank her for her intervention.

Despite the deepest possible respect for John Paul, Benedict might well be more hesitant to read cosmic significance into the vicissitudes of his own life.

To sum all this up in a sound-bite: In contrast to both cold skepticism and hot devotion, Benedict XVI embodies what one might call “Marian cool.” Neither cynical nor credulous, he harbors deep feeling for Mary and a keen sense of her theological importance, combined with reserve about the signs and wonders that surround eruptions of new Marian enthusiasm.

Whether “Marian cool” will sweep the Catholic world remains to be seen, but it may well be the most original feature of Benedict’s two and a half days in Lourdes.

http://ncronline3.org/drupal/?q=print/1908
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/16 17:46:55 (permalink)

ORIGINAL: Guest

ORIGINAL: Guest


But in terms of ordaining women to the priesthood? There are two streams of consciousness in the hierarchy as I see it: 1) one group continues to believe that women are inferior to men and therefore cannot be priests. 2) the other group would like to do something about correcting the picture but because they are theologically convinced that there is meaning to be found in Jesus's choice of twelve male apostles believe they would be going against Jesus's will if they permitted women to be ordained as priests. This stream does not think that women are inferior. It just believes that Jesus's choice must be followed.

It is this group in particular, I believe, who turn to Mary as a model for possibilities. Pope John Paul II used to talk about her in terms of co-redemptrix. I personally think it is a wonderful idea if her role as co-redemptrix is applied as a model for all women and men and not just women.



I agree that some people believe in this argument because the Vatican says so and not because it makes any sense or has a solid justification.

I do not believe that the men in the Vatican really believe these arguments are valid. They just are not that stupid.

These arguments are a deliberate attempt by men to preserve their special status in keeping the priesthood as a male preserve. These men want it that way and they will devise any lame excuse and use the Virgin Mary as a “token woman” in an attempt to present a non-discriminatory image.

They even have the audacity to put the blame for their discrimination against women on Jesus Christ. It is just disgraceful.



It is essential that people be informed about the flimsiness of the Vatican arguments. It is a disgrace that Christ is being blamed for the discrimination against women. One day the the Vatican will be pleading mea culpas for the arrogance it displays not only towards women but also to the entire faith community for feeding such disgraceful teaching to the flock.
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/16 20:29:36 (permalink)
Jesus did not just have twelve disciples or apostles and Jesus also had many WOMEN apostles too.  Paul also kept this TRADITION going of recognizing, appreciating, helping, encouraging,  and of praising the WOMEN apostles too,  not just the men.
 
It is a "lame" excuse to have the Vatican or others in supposed 'authoritative" positions claim only twelve matter and only men, for all time.
 
JESUS immediately chose WAY MORE than twelve, and Way more WOMEN  APOSTLES too.
 
The Jewish validation device of the TRIBAL TWELVE is not of utmost concern to Jesus or to Paul.  They are not called 'priests' either. Women too do ALL church roles.
 
Jesus tells us to never forget the WOMEN apostles, the WOMEN anointers of his holy head and his holy feet, and Paul tells us these women are "forever written in the Book of Life".....   so women too are valid for ordination.
 
So put back the biblical women in the Lectionary, Pope and Vatican and Synod bishops and people, as removing the women in the 1970's revision was very wrong. 
 
Time to fix the great error of excising out the biblical women from the Caholic Lectionary.  October 2008 Synod of the Word is the perfect time to get this error and wrong fixed.
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/16 20:46:45 (permalink)
Untill I started reading the New Testament,  I had no idea there were so many disciples and apostles plus so many women ones too.  Check it out because it is amazing. 
 
 If you look too in the thread Women Apostles, Women Disciples you see the names of these apostles and disciples too.  As a Catholic it is good to find out the truth from the Bible. 
 
 The twelve idea diminishes Jesus, God, Holy Spirit, the Church as it is not the truth:  there are way more than twelve apostles, disciples and there are lots of women disciples and women apostles too. 
 
 Read the New Testament because it is very good and wonderful to read what great work and good that Jesus and Paul tell us about what the women of the bible do , the women apostles and disciples do.  Just twelve men, no, way more than that .........  and lots of great women apostles too who help our church so much!
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/25 17:18:39 (permalink)
Anglican archbishop comes under fire for homily at Lourdes
By Simon Caldwell
Catholic News Service
September 24, 2008

LONDON (CNS) -- Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England, has come under fire for his homily during a pilgrimage to the Marian sanctuaries in Lourdes, France.
 

Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams

Archbishop Williams, leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said in a homily during a Sept. 24 international Mass at Lourdes that when Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 "she came at first as an anonymous figure, a beautiful lady, a mysterious thing, not yet identified as the Lord's spotless mother.

"And Bernadette -- uneducated, uninstructed in doctrine -- leaped with joy, recognizing that here was life, here was healing," he said. "Only bit by bit does Bernadette find the words to let the world know; only bit by bit, we might say, does she discover how to listen to the Lady and echo what she has to tell us."

He also praised the lives of the saints, saying that their examples "matter so much."

The archbishop later was criticized by the England-based Protestant Truth Society, a group of Anglicans and nonconformists committed to upholding the ideals of the Protestant Reformation.

The Rev. Jeremy Brooks, the group's director of ministry, said: "All true Protestants will be appalled that the archbishop of Canterbury has visited Lourdes and preached there.

"Lourdes represents everything about Roman Catholicism that the Protestant Reformation rejected, including apparitions, Mariolatry and the veneration of saints," he said in a Sept. 24 statement. "The archbishop's simple presence there is a wholesale compromise, and his sermon -- which included a reference to Mary as 'the mother of God' -- is a complete denial of Protestant orthodoxy."

He added, "At a time when our country is crying out for clear biblical leadership, it is nothing short of tragic that our supposedly Protestant archbishop is behaving as little more than a papal puppet."

Archbishop Williams was invited to the sanctuaries, where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette 150 years ago, by Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes. His visit is the first in modern times by an archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Williams held talks there with German Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who celebrated the international Mass.

Archbishop Williams was joined by an unprecedented pilgrimage of 10 Church of England bishops, some 60 Anglican priests and about 400 Anglican lay worshippers
.


http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0804863.htm
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/25 17:37:20 (permalink)
Dear friends,

The story about Dr. Rowan Williams provides an excellent segue to explain an important element in the case for women priests.  It has to do with Mary.

A study of Tradition recovers evidence which shows a deep understanding and devotion to her as a priest.  Our thread, Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ   creates dedicated space for dialogue and learning about this.  I encouage you to explore it.  In it you learn about the saints, bishops, theologians and spiritual authors who have written about Mary’s priesthood and whose writings are -- to a limited extent -- documented on our web site. This chronological list is not intended to reflect the devotion to Mary as Priest in a complete or exhaustive fashion. But it does give an idea as to how widespread this devotion has been and as to its continuity throughout the ages. The increase in testimonies in later centuries does not arise so much from growth in the devotion as from the fact that such testimonies are much more difficult to obtain from earlier times.


Mary wearing a bishop’s pallium (6th to14th centuries)
Why is this significant? Only bishops were allowed to wear the ecclesiastical pallium. And they wore it only when exercising their distinctly priestly ministry at the Eucharist or during solemn liturgies. 


The dedicated section in our document library to Mary, Priest, is located here: http://www.womenpriests.org/mrpriest/mpr_ovr.asp

If you have any questions, please let me know.

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/09/25 17:41:24 (permalink)


Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England, shown last summer during the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference for bishops in the Anglican Communion, is facing criticism for his pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Lourdes, France. (CNS/Reuters)

http://www.catholicnews.com/
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/10/12 14:55:12 (permalink)

 
ROSARY MONTH: In the Catholic tradition, the Rosary is given special attention during October and the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was celebrated on October 7. Sister Joan Chittister, osb explains: “In this steady, regular recollection of the presence of Mary in the midst of the church, we harvest the wisdom of the cycle of all life — its joys, its sorrows, its glories — and come to understand the role of each in our own growth. Without some understanding of each, it is questionable whether or not any of us can develop into a full human being.” You can find reflections by Joan Chittister on all the mysteries of the Rosary in In Pursuit of Peace: Praying the Rosary through the Psalms.
 
www.benetvision.org
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/10/13 19:04:30 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On this day October 13 in 1917 - The "Miracle of the Sun" is witnessed by an estimated 70,000 people in the Cova da Iria in Fatima, Portugual.
 
 
 
 
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/10/24 12:40:57 (permalink)
On this day October 24 in 1260 - The spectacular Cathedral of Chartres is dedicated in the presence of King Louis IX of France. The cathedral is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.




 
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/10/24 12:41:12 (permalink)
Destination: Chartres Cathedral
 
Medieval Chartres considered itself the chief sanctuary of the Virgin in Western Europe. The source of this eminence was the “tunic of the Virgin”, a piece of cloth thought to have been worn by the Virgin and given to the Cathedral in the ninth century…

Then they took the holy tunic
From the Mother of God, who departed –
A noble gift once at Constantinople.
At Chartres, a great king of France,
Called Charles the Bald from infancy,
Gave it to [the Church of] Chartres,
Which is still thought to have it.
The Lady who wore it
When she bore the Son of God
Thought it would be put
At Chartres, in her main church,
And that it would be preserved
In the place of which she is called the Lady.
- From a Latin poem of 1262 by Jean le Marchand
 
From Chartres Cathedral, Edited by Robert Branner, WW Norton & Company, New York, 1969
 
What is the oldest shrine to Our Lady? The answer is Notre Dame de Chartres—the famed Chartres Cathedral in France. This, perhaps the greatest Gothic Cathedral of all, located fifty miles southwest of Paris, was built above the first shrine ever dedicated to the Mother of God.

The original shrine at Chartres was a prophetic shrine built by pagan Druids, before Our Lady was born. This shrine was built “to the Virgin who would have a Son.” They had a statue of Our Blessed Mother and her Divine Son. This statue was placed in their shrine 100 years before Our Blessed Lord’s birth. Later, when early Christian missionaries reached Chartres, Christianity was joyfully received by the pagans there!…

From “The Oldest Shrine to Our Lady”, Monks of Adoration.org
 


In manifesting the underlying principles of the Catholic faith, liturgical art is integral to both the lex orandi (mode of prayer) and the lex credendi (mode of belief) of the Church.

The age-old axiom lex orandi, lex credendi originated with the solemn pronouncement of Pope Celestine I, legem credendi statuit lex orandi, regarding the definition of Mary as Theotokos, Mother of God. Then, as now, the liturgy of the universal Church praised Mary as the “Mother of God” and Pope Celestine called the Nestorians heretical for challenging an article of faith that was so deeply ingrained in the prayer life of the Christian community. His words implied that the liturgy of worship is a chief instrument in the perpetuation of true doctrine. Many centuries later, Pope Pius XII, in his 1947 encyclical on the liturgy, Mediator Dei, pointed out that the reverse is also true: Lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi (the true faith must establish the mode of prayer). In short, what the Church believes and how she prays are intrinsically one—and the liturgical arts form a part of this union. Once the doctrine of the Divine Motherhood of Mary was proclaimed at Ephesus, art came immediately into play. When the Basilica of Santa Maria Magiore was raised at this time in Rome, it was adorned with mosaics depicting the life of Our Lord and the Blessed Mother in accordance with the then-defined doctrine.

(…)

By the High Middle Ages, the cruciform church, its exterior covered with scenes from both the Old and New Testaments, and the lives of prophets and saints, reached its zenith in the Gothic Cathedral. These churches were a visual lesson in medieval theology. To quote again from art historian Irwin Panofsky, the task of the cathedral builder was… to make reason clearer by an appeal to the imagination; [he] sought to embody in stone and glass the whole Christian knowledge, theological, moral, natural, and historical, with everything in its place and with all that no longer found its place suppressed … a Summa Theologiae to be visually apprehended.”

Between the years 1140 and 1280, some eighty of these magnificent structures were built and dedicated to the Most Holy Virgin, as had been the great Basilica of Santa Maria Magiore in Rome in the fourth century.

The driving force behind the Gothic movement, and its abundant use of imagery rising heavenward in ordered hierarchy of splendor, was the Promethean figure of the Abbe Suger (1081 - 1151) of the Benedictine Abby of St. Denis on the Ile de France. In contrast to the visual austerity of the burgeoning Cistercian piety, and basing his love of beauty in the service of God on the writings of Dionysius the Pseudo-Aeropagite , Abbe Suger not only affirmed the popular devotion of venerating images, but extolled splendor in liturgical settings as an aid to raising mind and heart in contemplation of Divine Truth:


“When out of my delight in the beauty of the house of God the loveliness of the many-colored stones has called me away from external cares, and worthy meditation has induced me to reflect, transferring that which is material to that which is immaterial, on the diversity of the sacred virtues: it seems to me that I see myself dwelling, as it were, in some strange region of the universe which neither exists entirely in the slime of earth nor entirely in the purity of Heaven; and that, by the grace of God, I can be transported from this inferior to the higher world in an analogical manner.”

This perception of Suger–that the soul ascends to contemplation of supernatural Truth through contemplation of natural beauty–became an accepted part of the Roman Catholic tradition and was echoed in philosophic terms by the thirteenth century Scholastic, Duns Scotus: “It is impossible for our mind to rise to the imitation and contemplation of the celestial hierarchies unless it relies upon the material guidance that is commensurate to it.”

Of all these great cathedrals, perhaps the most perfect exemplar is the cathedral of Chartres, southwest of Paris. At this shrine to the Queen of Heaven and Earth, the visual fusion of the lex orandi and lex credendi is complete. The two towers, God and creation, stand stage right and stage left as in a Byzantine icon. Between them is the Rose Window –Mary, the Rose (perfection) of Creation. She is, in the words of Dante: “the rose in which the Word was made flesh.” (Paradiso XXIII). From the entrance which is dominated by Mary, the eye is drawn along the aisle right up to the sanctuary where Christ Himself is offered up daily at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Henry Adams, a non-Catholic, looked up at the Rose Window of Chartres and exclaimed “[It is] a jewel so gorgeous that no earthly majesty could bear comparison with It…Never in seven hundred years has one looked up at this Rose without feeling it to be Our Lady’s promise of paradise.” (Mont -Saint Michel and Chartres)

On the floor of the cathedral, bathed in the light of the great Rose Window, a forty-foot labyrinth is engraved in the pavement. Contrary to some modern speculation, in medieval times the labyrinth was a symbol of the dark forces ascribed to Hell. This certainly holds true for the labyrinth at the great Marian Cathedral of Chartres. At the center of this configuration an inscription, now lost, read: “This stone represents the Cretan’s Labyrinth. Those who enter cannot leave unless they be helped, like Theseus by Ariadne’s thread. The analogy was clear to the medieval mind: to escape the entrapment of the bestial demons, one must place one’s destiny in the hands of the Woman, Mary.

From “Art & Liturgy: the Splendor of Faith” by Hamilton Reed Armstrong (abridged version here )



The cathedral was not designed or built in a cultural vacuum. It is interesting to note that both Panofsky and Raddings and Clark make connections between learning and architecture. Although these authors do not agree at every point, they do each establish this link. For example, each points out that the scholastics were the first to organize arguments into sections and sub-sections. This is seen in contrast to the “books” that were previously used (one is reminded even of Euclid). This tendency is manifested architecturally by the uniform divisions and subdivisions of the space. Clearly the floorplan of Chartres embodies these subdivisions.

Using similar arguments, these authors argue for a strong connection between the state of learning and architectural style during this period. Recall that by the time work on the present cathedral was begun (1194) the school at Chartres had a well-established tradition. Otto von Simson points out that at the time of the building of a new cathedral there was already a strong Neoplatonic tradition at the Chartres school, a tradition that focused around mathematical and musical studies. He notes, that “The masters of Chartres, like the Platonists and Pythagoreans of all ages, were obsessed with mathematics: it was considered the link between God and the world, the magical tool that would unlock the secrets of both.” He goes on to give examples of how the scholar Thierry of Chartres used geometry and arithmetic to help bring out aspects of theology. For example, von Simson points out that for Thierry, the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is represented by the equilateral triangle. Thus, at Chartres, anyway, there is already a strong disposition toward a high view of mathematics and we should not be surprised to see this incorporated into the building…

From “Mathematics at Chartres Cathedral” by Richard Stout
 


Emile Male, the French art historian, said all French cathedrals, except Chartres, “seemed intended to throw into relief some particular truth or doctrine … “Chartres, he said, is “the whole thought of the Middle Ages made visible.”There are estimated to be 10,000 statues outside the cathedral. That is all the more remarkable when one sees the interior which is barren, except for the aesthetically out-of-place Baroque altar.

And, while some speak of the “brilliance of Chartres,” that brilliance resides high up in the clerestories, where pencil-width edges of light-bearing glass sparkle in the gloom. In the nave itself, there is what has been called “a somber twilight.”

This twilight creates a relative myopia, which lasts for at least an hour after one has come inside. One can make things out, but not distinctly. What light there is, is strained through the famous cobalt blue and red windows, colors which, curiously enough, give the least visual acuity.'

Like other cathedrals’, the windows at Chartres are enormous, and consist of twin lancets surmounted by an elaborate rose. There may be more than one hundred and forty-three windows all told, each forty-feet high; and though this form is repeated at Amiens, Paris, Auxerre, Reims, and Ourscamp, and though the ground plan at Chartres has no closer proximity to a standard plan than the cathedrals of Paris and Reims, the same effects are not obtained in the other cathedrals. At Chartres, everything is perceived in a diffused, pervasive coloristic darkness. And, in the ambulatoire of Notre Dame de Paris, even on a sunny day, one can scarcely see his hand before his face.

We know that the schemata for cathedrals was worked out by theologians, and that the majority of Gothic theologians held (with Dionysius the Areopagite) that the Ineffable can be expressed in concrete form. However, at Chartres, there developed a brand of hybrid Platonism which characterized human understanding and truth in such a way that it became difficult to distinguish between a mystical experience and an intellectual perception.

If intellectual perceptions and mystical experience become indistinguishable, one can live in the mind, and thereby experience God. Dionysius may also be the source for this. In Mystical Theology II.1, he speaks of rising to that Void, where God is utterly Alone, as


… ascending upwards from particular to universal conceptions, we strip off all qualities in order that we may attain a naked knowledge of the Unknowing … that we may begin to see that super-essential Darkness which is hidden by the light that is in existent things.

There is an interesting reference in one of the sermons of John of Salisbury, bishop of Chartres from 1176 until his death in 1180, in which he speaks against those Scholastics who doubt everything, “… even their own senses and their memory.” It may be that the bishop was speaking against sanctions held by his own monks; it is impossible to tell in context. However, we do know that later medieval mystics, notably Meister Eckhart, under what they said was the influence of Dionsyius the Areopagite, referred to God as “the Great Nihil.”

Mystical Theology II.1 begins by saying:


Unto this darkness which is beyond Light, we pray that we may come and may attain unto vision through the loss of sight and knowledge, and that in ceasing thus to see or to know that is beyond all perception and all understanding (for this emptying of our faculties is true sight and true knowledge) and that we may offer Him that which transcends all things the praises of a transcendent hymnody….

That is: giving up sight and knowing physical realities, or things of this world, we rise (intellectually? spiritually?) to the plane of Darkness where God is Alone, where subject and object disappear, as we become like God:


… in proper truth we do but use the elements and syllables and phrases and written terms and words as an aid to our sense; inasmuch as when our soul is moved by spiritual energies unto spiritual things, our senses, together with the thing which they perceive are superfluous when our soul, becoming God-like meets in the blind embraces of an incomprehensible union the rays of unapproachable light.

What we perceive, even at that level of existence, is not God, Who is similar to Himself and to nothing else, but the greatest possible similitude. And what is the difference between “seeing” the Rays of unapproachable Light, while locked in the blind embraces of the union with them, and being on that plane of super-essential divine Darkness which is hidden by the meritricious gaudiness of the lights of created things? None. One is rendered sightless by both. The two concepts are used complementarily. What we perceive is not God, but His effects: Rays of light in the first instance, and the thick Darkness-Beyond-Being in the second.

Extramission, Plato’s theory of optics, is the source of Dionysian light metaphysics; but the light of physical things hides God from us, as we have seen. By shedding that light, we can rise to that Darkness where God is Alone.

If the theologians at Chartres were attracted to the notion that there is no difference between mystical experience and intellectual perception, does it not seem likely that they would have tried to find a way to make that mystical experience and the material world of their cathedral merge? Since they chose to use glass which gives the least visual acuity, and since they could have had clear glass, which was also available, and since a myopic condition which lasts for an hour or more results from their color choice, does it not seem likely that the coloristic darkness is purposeful? But, if purposeful, what is its meaning?

It could be analogous to the stripping away of the senses that Dionysius discusses. However, there is another possibility, which is to be found in examining the windows themselves, the only source of what little light is admitted into the cathedral at Chartres.

Of the sixteen twin lancet formations, eight rosettes show an image of Christ, blessing. He appears in two of the windows in exactly identical form. Since the rosettes themselves are symbolic of the Virgin Mary, does it not seem possible that Christ is to be seen as literally within His Mother’s symbol; or to put it another way: Christ is symbolically present within His mother, not yet born.

The cathedral itself has nine doors, three on the west, three on the north, and three on the south, or three times three, a mystical number signifying perfection. Hence, what one enters at Chartres is an earthly example of the Heavenly Jerusalem. From the time of Fulbert, in the llth century, scholars of Chartres identified the Heavenly Jerusalem as the Bride of Christ, whom they regarded as the Virgin Mary.

Therefore, it is possible to interpret the interior of Chartres’ cathedral as the interior of the Virgin herself, the womb of the Mother of God. The light which falls into that space, in at least eight instances, is Christ Himself, blessing…

From “Pseudo-Dionysius’ Metaphysics of Darkness and Chartres Cathedral” by Laurence J. James
 


See also:

Wikipedia: Cathedral of Chartres
New Advent: Diocese of Chartres
San Jose State University: Virtual Chartres Cathedral
University of Pittsburgh: Digital Research Library
UNESCO: Solemn World of Lights: Chartres Cathedral
Athena Review: Chartres Cathedral and its Stained Glass
Time Archive: Chartres 1260-1960
Christian History Institute: Chartres Cathedral Burned but Key Relic Survives
Site devoted to the collection of gifts in order to restore the Chartres’ cathedral (in French)

http://guardduty.wordpress.com/2007/03/04/destination-chartres-cathedral/
post edited by Sophie - 2008/10/24 12:42:51
Sophie
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/12/09 00:11:35 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On December 8 in 1854 - Pope Pius IX proclaims the dogma of Immaculate Conception.  It holds that the Virgin Mary was born free of original sin.
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/12/09 00:41:51 (permalink)
 

The Immaculate Conception: Saint Anne carries her child, Mary, in her womb.
 
Jean Bellegambe
Saint Anne conceiving the Virgin Mary

Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse
post edited by Sophie - 2008/12/09 18:46:46
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/12/09 00:44:53 (permalink)
Dear friends,

The declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is one of fhs rare instances when a pope has invoked the ex cathedra mode of infallibility.  (There are three modes of papal infallibility.  Ex cathedra is the mode through which an infallible teaching comes from the chair of the pope alone.  This is distinguished from infallible teachings that come through one of two other modes of infallibility, ie a valid ecumenical council or the ordinary and universal magisterium.)

The doctrine of papal infallibility does not mean that the Pope is infallible in everything he says. Contrary to common belief, the invocation of papal infallibility is extremely rare. Since 1870  when the ex cathedra mode of infallibility of the pope alone was formally defined, it has been invoked by only two popes on only two occasions:

  • in 1854 when Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception; and
  • in 1950 by Pope Pius XII when he defined the dogma of  the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven.


Dr. John Wijngaards

Dr. John Wijngaards, the founder of www.womenpriests.org who now serves as Academic Advisor to our womenpriests Team was recently in the news making comment about this.  In response to great ignorance about Church teaching shown by a presenter on a Sunday programme here in the UK, Dr. Wijngaards responded with publication of a letter in The Tablet (1 Dec 2007, p.20). An excerpt of his informative contribution is copied here:

Since mention of infallibility raises the temperature among Catholics, a few facts should be pointed out. To begin with, not a single ‘ex cathedra’ infallible statement on doctrine or ethics has been made by Pope Paul VI (Humanae Vitae), Pope John Paul II or the present Pope during their pontificates spanning the last three decades. [In fact, the latest infallible ‘ex cathedra’ pronouncement took place under Pope Pius XII in 1950 regarding the Assumption of Our Lady]. At least 20 papal pronouncements that were declared ‘binding’ have subsequently been retracted by other Popes or General Councils. The faithful have the right, indeed the duty, to speak out on matters about which they are competent, when they discern the Pope to be mistaken in such matters (Gaudium et Spes, no 62; Canon Law no 212 § 3). Each person must follow his or her conscience in one’s personal life (Gaudium et Spes, no 16). This also applies to Catholics who, after careful study and reflection, perceive guidelines by the Church however much presented as ‘binding’, to be misguided. Bishops and parish priests should appreciate that the appalling lack of awareness of such facts will ultimately harm the good of the Church. It is natural for soul-searching to go in the community of the Church concerning controversial issues of our time. Unless this soul-searching is acknowledged by openness to public and honest discussion, ever more frustrated Catholics will turn away from the Church to salvage their own self respect.
If you have any questions, please let me know.

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/12/09 00:46:27 (permalink)

Dr. John Wijngaards

Curious about Dr. John Wijngaards, our website founder who now serves as Chief Academic Advisor for our work?
 
Click here: http://www.womenpriests.org/wijnga~1/index.asp
 
See here for a copy of his curriculum vitae: http://www.catherineofsiena.net/about/wijng_cv.asp
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/12/09 00:48:17 (permalink)
The declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is one of fhs rare instances when a pope has invoked the ex cathedra mode of infallibility.  (There are three modes of papal infallibility.  Ex cathedra is the mode through which an infallible teaching comes from the chair of the pope alone.  This is distinguished from infallible teachings that come through one of two other modes of infallibility, ie a valid ecumenical council or the ordinary and universal magisterium.)

The doctrine of papal infallibility does not mean that the Pope is infallible in everything he says. Contrary to common belief, the invocation of papal infallibility is extremely rare. Since 1870  when the ex cathedra mode of infallibility of the pope alone was formally defined, it has been invoked by only two popes on only two occasions:


  • in 1854 when Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception; and
  • in 1950 by Pope Pius XII when he defined the dogma of  the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven.

 
 The issue of Papal Infallibility in the case for women's ordination:
 
On May 22, 1994,  Pope John Paul II  issued an Apostolic Letter reserving priestly ordination to men alone.  Known as Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, it is believed by many to be an example of an ex cathedra infallible declaration by the Pope.  In fact, the Letter falls short of the carefully defined prerequisites for an infallibile declaration.

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis cannot legitimately be held up to the faithful as infallible teaching.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

~s~
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RE: Mary, the first Christian 2008/12/09 02:07:20 (permalink)

Icon by Nivia Gonzalez
http://www.nivialinda.com/virgin_guadalupe.html
 
On this day December 9 in 1531 - The Virgin of Guadalupe said to have first appeared to Juan Diego at Tepeyac, Mexico.
post edited by Sophie - 2008/12/09 02:10:32
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