Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th.

Immaculate Conception by Murrillo

Immaculate Conception by Murrillo

Bartolome Esteban Murillo painted several versions of The Immaculate Conception–I like this one the best.

The United States Bishops consecrated the nation to the Immaculate Conception in 1954.

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Domenico Piola, Genoa

Piola fills his painting with the salvation story: The sinless daughter, crowned  by God the Father with stars as Queen of the Universe;  Eve, with the apple of temptation, is overshadowed Mary, full of grave; Satan defeated by the cross of Christ’s crucifixion.

Tiepolo’s enigmatic Immaculate Conception is a favorite, the expression seems to communicate an intense awareness of the sorrow and joy to come–and the solemnity of the eternal significance.

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She stands on the earth crushing the dragon, the lily of purity carried by her angel…

Jose Ribera’s grand and flourished Virgin foreshadows her title Mother of the Church, as she stands above the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Next, El Greco’s depiction of the Immaculate Conception:

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In Martino Altomonte painting, the action of conception takes place in the heavens, Mary, free of original sin,  stands upon the earth, crushing the head of the dragon and the apple of temptation, his tail entwines the world.

Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez:The Immaculate Conception c. 1618

Velasquez’ Virgin stands in dark endless cosmos…on a rising moon, crowned with stars, her presence illumines the world that awaits her intercession.

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Zurbaran’s Immaculate Conception crushes the dragon-headed snake with its sin-poisoned apple.

Catechism of the Catholic Church,# 492:  The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.” The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.”

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Republicans Wander in the Wilderness

The shock of losing the 2012 presidential election set the GOP back on its heels. Many in GOP leadership are wandering in the wilderness–lurching from one foolish idea to the next.  Oddly, they are deaf to their true base and have  no idea which path leads to a victory for 2016.

“Ken Mehlman is either deluded or disingenuous. The former chairman of the Republican National Committee is among those now trying to bring the Republican Party around to the cause of gay marriage.”  More here.

Mehlman  and his ilk are 180 degrees off base.  The Democrats “own” the permissive sexual platform. No GOP  who chirps “me too!” and hops aboard the wagon to social decay will win a single Republican Senate seat, much less the White House. Republicans will fail again in 2014 and 2016 if they head down the path of Republican Lite. (see Social Decline and the GOP)

The road ahead is a steep arduous journey.  And,  one wonders if Republicans have the stomach for it.  Notice that the “progressive” Americans won’t vote for decent moral values unless and until leadership– cultural, political and most of all, religious–calls the nation back to the founding morality.  Let’s dispense with any illusions that the country was built by free-thinking deists. That there were such persons of influence is true. But their views were not codified in the Constitution.  The far greater weight goes to those Founders and early leaders who insisted that as a nation we must be virtuous citizens, self reliant,  and faithful to God.

What’s the Message? Reflection on the Lost Election

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Let us set aside the debate about any Republican tactical missteps or the general question of Nice Guy against Street Fighter.

More profitable for Catholics may be the reflection on what it means that 50% of us–our nation– are willing to sacrifice economic stability in order to insure liberal social mores. Exit polls indicate a majority of voters listed the economy at the top of their worry list, yet, still preferred Obama to Romney. Their reasons essentially came to this: Women’s rights, same-sex unions, and “fairness” by which most mean income redistribution.

Here is a clip from the oh-so-erudite New Yorker Magazine:


Nearly as pleasing as Obama’s surprisingly easy reëlection—and, to me at least, rather more surprising—was the electorate’s nearly across-the-board embrace of cultural and social liberalism and, implicitly, of secularism… In Maine, Maryland, and Washington, for the first time anywhere, initiatives to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples were on the ballot. All three passed—a gigantic breakthrough. In a fourth state, Minnesota, voters rejected a ban on gay marriage. This had never happened before, either; what had happened before, thirty-two times, was that such bans were approved, sometimes overwhelmingly. The pro-equality majorities this time were small, between fifty-one and fifty-three per cent, but they were unprecedented. The change is stunning. It’s epochal. And it shows signs of being permanent.

Author Hertzberg  is effusive–the victory is a “gigantic breakthrough” and “the change is stunning…epochal”

………………I fear he is correct.   Notice–it was NOT about the economy for them.  The Republicans utterly missed that.  No, Democrats understood that Obama is wrecking the economy but they did not care. Simply stated, for many of them the compelling  issue is the culture war.   And it should have been for us too–the nation is so divided, now, that a even the hemorrhaging economy is tolerable, but Christian values are not.

The bishops begin their November deliberations on Monday, and “what do we do now?” is the subtext of every agenda item.  What we may need is a blueprint for charitable but firm civil disobedience.

Link to upcoming USSCB meeting http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-156.cfm

 

******** some have emailed to ask where they may find my article from 2008 0n Obama and Saul Alinsky. Here is a link to “The Other Side of Change:”

http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/mjanderson/04417.html

More past articles can be found here http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/mjanderson/

Blunt Bishops—Thank God!

Recently a shiny new priest used a daily mass homily–five minutes, max–to read a few choice writings  from St. John Vianney.  Fr. Newly Ordained marveled at the boldness of the Curé d’ Ars,  who is the patron of priests.  The young priest observed that in some dioceses you’d be sent packing just for reading those lines.

Sadly, this is so. But as often we are inspired  by a “holy boldness” when a bishop speaks out forcefully and, dare I say, bluntly.  We need plain speech when souls are in the balance.

Here is one such statement from Bp. David Ricken:

“Calling the 2012 election “a turning point in our country’s history,” Bishop David Ricken urged Catholics of the Diocese of Green Bay to remember “the set of non-negotiables” as they cast their ballots.

“These are areas that are ‘intrinsically evil’ and cannot be supported by anyone who is a believer in God or the common good or the dignity of the human person,” said Bishop Ricken. “They are:

  • 1. abortion
  • 2. euthanasia
  • 3. embryonic stem cell research
  • 4. human cloning
  • 5. homosexual “marriage”

“Some candidates and one party have even chosen some of these as their party’s or their personal political platform,” Bishop Ricken added. “To vote for someone in favor of these positions means that you could be morally ‘complicit’ with these choices which are intrinsically evil. This could put your own soul in jeopardy.”

The full story is here.

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The Contraceptive Vote

October 16th

Women  want more than “pelvic politics”.  Newest Gallup poll indicates women in swing  states are taking a new look at the Romney/ Ryan positions.   It is important that Catholics make their voices heard–too many women, even Catholics, have the impression that a Romney victory means the end of access to birth control.  Not so. The Republican platform says nothing about contraceptive access. Rather it defends religious freedom–the right of people of conscience to not be coerced into paying for an immoral act. Contraception will be just as available as it is now– it simply protects Catholics from coercion.

Obama: Catholics and other Christians will be forced to pay for contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion inducing drugs under  Obamacare. Thus, over 50 dioceses and catholic organizations have filed suit against the administration  seeking relief under the   religious liberty provision of the Constitution.

Romney:   Contraceptives remain available as they are today. Catholics and others not forced to pay for such services.

More Election entries here.

Who Should Catholics Vote for On November 6th?

In the coming weeks there will be posts of interest  to those who want to make an honest appraisal of the candidates and the party platforms.

It is no secret that both campaigns have identified Catholics as the key to their success.  But the candidates view Catholics very differently.  The Democratic campaign is certain that Catholic women are not disturbed by the Democratic platform’s  commitment to abortion, free contraceptives  and sterilizations(paid for by the taxpayers under Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act). The Republican  campaign views Catholics as a block that is–or should be–very alarmed by the HHS mandate’s assault on Religious Liberty, a pillar of the Constitution.    Please visit often to read how each side seeks to secure the crucial Catholic vote.

In the meanwhile, to this post will be added  new snips and clips from news features and  Church issues to address the issue of  the “Catholic vote.” Please scroll down to read each day’s entry.

October 16th

Women  want more than “pelvic politics”.  Newest Gallup poll indicates women in swing  states are taking a new look at the Romney/ Ryan positions.   It is important that Catholics make their voices heard–too many women, even Catholics, have the impression that a Romney victory means the end of access to birth control.  Not so. The Republican platform says nothing about contraceptive access. Rather it defends religious freedom–the right of people of conscience to not be coerced into paying for an immoral act. Contraception will be just as available as it is now– it simply protects Catholics from coercion.

 

October 8th

“In the words of “Faithful Citizenship,” how we should respond is clear. The document says, “Our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity.” As you consider these concerns, I will be praying for you in Rome that the humble, joyful Poverello of Assisi intercede for us, and that Mary Immaculate, patroness of the United States and Star of the New Evangelization, will inspire in us wisdom, prudence, and courage.”

————–Timothy, Cardinal Dolan, president of the USCCB

October 1st

September 30th

Want Peace? Vote for Religious Liberty

Pope Benedict XVI’s 2011 World Day of Peace message called religious freedom the “path to peace.” Since “religious freedom is at the origin of moral freedom,” the Pope taught it should be understood “not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one’s own choices in accordance with truth… When religious freedom is acknowledged, the dignity of the human person is respected at its root, and the ethos and institutions of peoples are strengthened. On the other hand, whenever religious freedom is denied, and attempts are made to hinder people from professing their religion or faith and living accordingly, human dignity is offended, with a resulting threat to justice and peace….” ( More here)

It’s a fundamental break with reality to think that peace on earth can begin with nations that abort their own children. Such nations demonstrate their domination over the most vulnerable. A domination ethos never leads to peace.  A government that then attempts to force people of faith to live at the margins of society by means of coercive power simply provokes  rebellion.

Want peace?  Vote to protect religious liberty.

—–MJA

 

September 29th, Feast of the Archangels

Novena for Religious Liberty Begins Today!

Please join millions today for the Novena to the Mother of God for the Nation.

During the Novena, leading bishops from across the nation will be celebrating the televised Mass from Our Lady of the Angels Chapel in Irondale, Alabama at 8 a.m. ET each day. Each bishop will deliver a homily highlighting the importance of prayer in the fight for religious liberty and will lead the novena prayers for that day. Celebrants will include Most Rev. James D. Conley, Bishop-designate of Lincoln (Neb.), who will open the novena; Kansas City Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann; Mobile (Ala.) Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi; Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput; and Birmingham (Ala.) Bishop Robert J. Baker, who will close the novena.

“Catholics have always turned instinctively for help to the Mother of God in times of need,” says Fr. Miller, “And so, in 2012, we turn to Our Lady for help. Many of the values that have shaped our country from the beginning seem to be at risk. Pope Benedict XVI and the American Bishops have noted the erosion of religious freedom, the first value guaranteed by the Constitution. This novena challenges all of us to a deeper conversion to Christ and a more generous life of charity. The proximity of this novena to the 2012 Presidential Election also offers an opportunity to pray for all of our government officials and to seek Divine assistance in the election.”

Novena may be downloaded here.

—-MJA

September 28th

The Poor and Me. And you.

 

“In voting, consideration must be given to the poor and measures to help them. Though direct government assistance is sometimes necessary, it is not the only solution in assisting the poor and needy. Society should never fail in its fundamental task of creating an environment in which the poor and needy can prosper and reach a sense of security and freedom for themselves and for their families. This necessitates that all join in helping the poor and needy and the government must respect the freedom of institutions involved in this work.”

—- Frank J.Dewane,  Bishop of Venice Florida

One of the more sobering consequences of  increased government assistance to the poor is that it makes too many of us–Christians– complacent about the plight of the poor.  “I’m sure there is a government program for that,”   is a refrain we frequently hear. It’s a polite way to say, ” I need not trouble myself over this man’s circumstance.”

But Jesus said, “Feed them yourselves.” (Matthew 14:13-17) Simply stated, we’ve have sub-contracted out  to the government a direct command that Christ gave us to fulfill.    We are flaccid. We lack virtue when we fail to engage the “least of our brothers” ourselves. The context of the Feeding of the Multitude is interesting–Jesus is with His disciples in a large crowd.  “The people” are engaged directly with Jesus and his followers.  There is no government-run hamburger stand. The crowd is listening and watching: “Who is this Teacher who speaks as no other has spoken?”   Is it such a stretch for third millennium Christians to see that our own direct hands-on service is a far more compelling voice for what we profess than a grinding government bureaucracy?

In the clip above Bp. Dewane points out that direct government assistance is not the only solution to care of the poor. I would suggest it is the least effective method ; too much overhead, too much fraud, too much waste. Ah, but, it affords complacent American Christians  a measure of comfort –I care for the poor!–without the human element, that is, without ever having to interact with the poor.  We may tickle our “compassion” button with that claim, but it is false. True compassion comes alongside the one who suffers. Compassion is personal.

The Catholic Church provides more social services for the poor  than any other entity in the nation–except the US government.  If the HHS mandate is not overturned, those services to the poor will be shuttered. Who then will the poor have?  A  faceless leviathan with a monopoly on “the poor.”  We may ignore Christ’s  command to “feed them yourselves” but there will be consequences for the poor –and for those of us impoverished of virtue.

—-MJA

September 27th

Here is a snip from a U.S. News and World Report article:

“With most of the national polls showing the race to be one or two points either way, the fight over the Catholic vote is heating up. In Cleveland, Ohio, the local chapter of Right to Life has issued a formal letter to Bishop Richard Lennon asking him to suspend the Diocese’s “Faithful Citizenship” meetings because of their disregard for pro-life issues.

“As a pro-life woman and a Catholic, I am appalled,” Cleveland Right to Life President Molly Smith said in a release. “Our Church is under attack by the most liberal, pro-abortion leadership in history. The Cleveland Catholic Diocese is missing a great teaching and unifying opportunity by responding in this manner.”

According to Smith’s group, “Faithful Citizenship meetings were organized by the Diocese of Cleveland with the goal of aiding Catholics in preparing themselves to vote this November. The forums, led in part by open Obama-supporter Karen Leith, downplay abortion and religious freedom, issues of irreducible importance to Catholic voters.”  Read more here

More on the CATHOLIC VOTE here.

Keep the faith!

MJA

Cardinal Dolan, Prayer of a Righteous Man

In the months ahead, Cardinal Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,  must have the wisdom of Solomon.  The Church in America faces severe trials over the HHS mandate  which assaults our constitutional right to religious liberty.

Please pray for our shepherds.

Archbishop Charles Chaput and other US bishops have called for a rosary novena to begin on the Feast of the Archangels, September 29- October 7, Feast of the Rosary and the Victory of the Battle of Lepanto.

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