Signs and Ceremonies: The Virgin Mary

The following is from Teaching Truths by Signs and Ceremonies or The Church, Its Rites and Services Explained for the People by Rev. Jas. L. Meagher (1882, New York: Russel Brothers).

"St. Ephanius, born in the year 310, says: ‘What shall I say, or what shall I preach of that beautiful and Holy Virgin? God alone excepted, she excels all others. In her nature more beautiful than the Cherubims and Seraphims and all the angelic host, no earthly tongue can sing her heavenly praises, not even the tongues of angels. O, Holy Virgin, pure dove and celestial spouse. Mary thou art heaven, the temple and the throne of divinity; thou hast Christ transcendent in heaven, as thy son on earth thou a bright cloud in heaven, brought Christ to illuminate the world. Thou gate of heaven, whom the prophet plainly and openly speaks in course of his prayer. ‘My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up.’ That Virgin is an immaculate lilly, who brought forth the more perfect rose, Christ. O holy Mother of God. O, Immaculate Dove! In thee the Word became incarnate. O, most holy Virgin, whose sanctity stupefies the angels! Wonderful is the miracle in heaven! a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet; wonderful is the miracle in heaven! the bosom of a virgin holds the Son of God. Wonderful is the miracle in heaven! the God of the angels becomes the Child of the Virgin. The angels condemn Eve; now they cover Mary with glory, for she raised up fallen Eve and she sends Adam, fallen from Paradise, into heaven. The grace of the holy Virgin is immense. Hence Gabriel first salutes the Virgin saying ‘Hail full of grace, Hail most holy Mother Immaculate who brought forth Christ, who was before thee.’" (Ch. 7, p. 112-113)

"Mary was mother of the entire Being born of her; but the Being born of her was the Son of God, and therefore she is the mother of God, and being the mother of God, she is higher, nobler, grander in dignity than any other creature that was mdae, but not by nature, for the angels and all the celestial spirits made by God in heaven are superior to us in the rank of creation and in knowledge; but no angel, no spirit in heaven is the mother of God – only Mary was created for that dignity. She is, therefore, not by nature, but by dignity, far above all the creatures that God made, and that dignity is founded upon her Maternity, because she is mother of God; but she is nothing, compared with God, and no one can adore her, none can worship her, for she is a creature, and to adore a creature is idolatry, and idolatry is the giving to a creature the worship that belongs to God alone. Therefore, idolatry is the greatest sin. Therefore, to adore Mary would be a great sin against God. Adoration, then, belongs only to the Divinity. Therefore we can adore only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." (Ch. 7, p. 115)

"All her gifts, all her dignity, all her excellences come from her Son; and if she is full of grace, in the words of the Archangel, that grace comes from Christ, for he is the source from whence come forth all graces and blessings that enlightened angels and men. He is the mediator between God and man. No one can go to heaven but through him; but as when we want to get some favor from a great person, we do not go directly to him but to some one of influence who is well known to him, and whom he respects, whom he cannot refuse, and we ask that one to intercede for us. Thus, sometimes, when we want something from God, and we consider ourselves so little and imperfect, and we know the tenderness and the sympathy of a woman’s heart, and we know the influence of a mother over her son, and we go to Mary and ask her to use her influence with her Son as she has already done, when she told Him they had no wine at Cana, and He changed the water into wine at her request. As Moses prayed for the sins of Israel in the desert, and God at the prayer of the just and holy Moses did not destroy the people, as the prophets prayed for the kings of Israel and God heard their prayers, ao God hears Mary’s requests and grants her what she asks. She is now dead; but those who are dead do not rest so as not to hear us, as many people suppose, for the very nature of a spirit is to be active and in motion. Thus our souls are never at rest, but ever exercise the power they have of movement and of action. Thus souls separate in heaven are always in action and in motion. Thus souls in heaven see God face to face; and as everything that takes place here on earth is seen by God, and as those spirits see him they see in God what takes place here on earth; they see in God then our prayers, our sufferings, our needs, and thus we know that Mary sees us when we pray, and hears us, and ask God to grant the favors that we ask of her.

We are not obliged to go to her; we can go directly to God, and thus many of us do. Thus it is with Mary and the saints. We pray to them only as the servants of God, or we see in their holiness God’s greatness in them; and if they are great, it is the greatness of god within them, for God made them what they are. We see, therefore, within them God himself, for God lived in them and moved in them, for they were the temples of the Holy Ghost." (Ch. 7, p.115-117)

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

2 thoughts on “Signs and Ceremonies: The Virgin Mary

  1. Pingback: Signs, Symbols, and Reality | Catholic @ Ales Rarus

  2. Pingback: Signs and Ceremonies: Sacrifice @ Ales Rarus

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