Lost in the Archives

Well, not totally lost.  I am just reading most of the time that I don’t have other duties to which I must attend.  I hope to soon have a post on an interesting aspect of the occult pertaining to the difference between Christian mysticism and neopagan, magical consciousness.  The attraction of “alternative religion,” is that it promises “supernatural” or transcendent consciousness, the experience of unity, integration and joy without dogma.  It is a big temptation.

Please pray that I get this book on Harry Potter and the occult done soon.

I am uploading here a very cogent list of 10 non-religious reasons why same-sex marriage should not be legalized for your consideration.  (I am not the author of the list.  I neglected to mention this.  The author is anonymous.) BTW, did you know that 85% of all abortions, according to Planned Parenthood research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, are obtained by unmarried women.  My understanding is that the latest statistic has it up to 87%, but I have not been able to verify that.  Either way, it is a tremendous statistic.  The erosion of marriage is directly related to the incidence of abortion, and the elimination of children from the culture of marriage is obliterating the most fundamental social institution of our race.  If we want to stop abortion we have to address the problem with marriage.

Heads in the Sand (Update)

The discovery of the shrine raises the possibility that Loughner, 22, may have been driven by other forces.

No kidding.

Watch the occult apologists come out of the woodwork to explain this away.  I suppose this was his shrine to Sarah Palin.  What I find most disturbing about the aftermath of the horrible act of murder and treason in Tuscon is the state of denial and the willingness to use the tragedy as a political football.

Update:

Plot Thickens

He creeped me out,” she said. Morgan told CBS 5 News that Loughner asked her about the voices in his head. “He said to me, ‘Nobody likes my ideas about things. I hear voices and I knew you would be able to relate and not make fun of me.’”

Morgan claims to have the ability to speak with spirits of the deceased. “I told him what I do is different. I hear voices that are kind and loving. They pass along loving messages to their families who are still alive.”

Loughner, she said, was hearing voices telling him to take action. “I asked him, ‘Did you tell the health-care people that?’ He said, ‘No, they would put me in an institution.’”

Morgan said that as she was talking with Loughner, she got chills. “I saw him in an incarceration situation,” she said. “I remember exactly what I asked him, I said, ‘Have you been incarcerated? I see confinement. I see a jail cell.’”

To creep out a necromancer you must be pretty creepy.  God have mercy on us.

Helper in Childbirth

It has been my intention for many years to install a Marian pro-life shrine in our chapel in Griswold, Connecticut. I wanted something very special that would be an exorcism against the culture of death, but would also be beautiful and positive—something truly representative of the Culture of Life.  I spoke about this with an iconographer we have worked with over a number of years, Marek Czarneki, and he was very excited.  He had thought about doing something along these lines also.

He told me about a devotional image used in the Orthodox Church by midwives, The Helper in Childbirth:

This particular image is not altogether liturgical, as Our Lady’ hair is uncovered, a feature which ordinarily has erotic connotations.  This is why, Marek tells me, Eastern Christian tradition permitted unmarried women to uncover their heads as a sign of their availability, but not married women. In the case of this icon, I surmise the uncovered head indicates the Virgin’s recent delivery, which connects it to the labor of those who were blessed by this image during the experience of childbirth.

Parenthetically, I might note that the liturgical canons of iconography indicate a Theology of Clothing rather than one of nakedness.  The nuptiality of the liturgy is not a carnalization of the sacred mysteries, contrary to the mythology of some.

So Marek went to work in order to make this wonderful prototype more fitting for public veneration in a liturgical context.  Here is the result:

See AirMaria for the Blessing of the Icon, last Epiphany Sunday and for an interview with Marek.

The following is Marek’s explanation of the Icon:

While there is only one Virgin Mary, scholars have catalogued more than 1,100 distinct icons of the Mother of God. Spread out in front of us, it is difficult to understand why there are so many.  In their variety, we wonder if they all could possibly represent the same historical individual?  Every icon represents a different part of Our Lady, emphasizing specific facets of her life, personality, and intercession.  Despite the multiplicity of her icons, no single image has captured her fullness or proven adequate.

Some icons are named for shrines and places where miraculous events occurred, like the Virgin of Vladimir, a city in Russia.  Some are titled with words of praise, like the icon called “Life-Giving Spring” or “All Creation Rejoices in Thee”.  Other icons are titled after our own needs, and testify to Our Lady’s intercession.   We know of icons called  “The Mother of God, Confidence of Sinners”, or “She Who Soothes My Sorrows”, or the very beautiful and famous icon called “Perpetual Help”.

This icon of the Mother of God is called “The Helper in Childbirth“.  The first prototypes of this icon appeared in Western Russia, in the early 19th century.  It was made for a very practical and urgent need – the difficulties in conceiving and giving birth.

A variation of the ancient and famous icon of Our Lady of the Sign, this icon differs by showing the Mother of God folding her hands in prayer over her heart, instead of holding them outstretched to the sides.  Under the protective arch of her hands, we can see the newly conceived Christ Child, emanating from inside her womb in an almond shaped-halo of light.  To show He is the “Logos“, or Word of God incarnate, He holds a small white scroll.  She is filled and radiant with light from inside.

Originally, in a time when too many women died in childbirth, midwives carried this icon to help alleviate the pains and dangers of this life-giving process. Because of the practical purpose of this icon, it belonged more to the life of lay people and popular piety than the public, liturgical life of the Church. It would have been unusual to find it venerated in a church, or depicted on a large panel, since it needed to be small enough to carry among the other urgent, portable tools of a midwife’s work.

This icon is a prayer, from one mother to another: “Mother of God, you know my anxiety. Help me in this time of danger and happiness”.  It is an icon of remarkable empathy, from one Birth-Giver to another birth-giver.  Yet an icon cannot be closed in its meaning and use; it must be open to everyone at all times, in all circumstances, as the Mother of God herself is open to us in all our needs.  It is not an icon only for women in labor.

Every pregnancy is a miracle that fills us with joy, awe and dread at the same time. Surely the Mother of God will help us in this need.

We can pray for the difficulty in conceiving; she certainly understands miraculous conceptions, as did her own mother, St. Anne.

We can pray to her in the difficulty in carrying a child to term, and to safeguard us in the all the possible complications; imagine how she prayed, pregnant and riding on a donkey, only to give birth in a stable.

We can pray in front of it in joy and thanksgiving for her protection and guidance in helping us bear and raise children.

We can pray in front of it in the pain of the loss of a child, as the Mother of God herself knew the death of her only Child.

But what use is this icon of Divine Maternity to the single person, or the celibate?  Despite her miraculous conceiving, she still remains a virgin; one Orthodox hymn calls her the “unwedded bride”.

We can all stand in front of her, and pray in thanksgiving for being born; all of us have experienced the mystery of our own conception and birth.  We all have parents, and all are children.

Through her prayers, the Mother of God stands beside us as our midwife and model. In all ways, through our own human will and the grace of God, we all are expected to give birth to Christ into the world. St. Teresa of Avila reminds us, now we must be His hands, to bless and heal.

The icon will remain in the sanctuary of the chapel for forty days after which it will be installed in a special shrine at the side of the chapel.  Our hope is that pilgrims will come to find strength in Her.  It is an image of life through which mothers (and fathers) who have miscarried or who have had abortions might find healing; through which couples who wish to conceive may find a hearing, through which mothers who are carrying a child might find protection for a safe delivery.  It is also an image through which pro-lifers of all stripes might appeal to the Mother and Son for a victory of the Culture of Life.  We will also have a place for flowers near the image to be decorated at will by the Virgin’s clients.

The Queen of Courtesy will Conquer.

Virgin Mother

Happy Feast of the Mother of God!

This is my homily from December 30, but it fits well with today’s celebration:

Here is an appropriate quote from John Saward from His article “Virginity During the Birth“:

In the late fourth century, the doctrine of the virginity in partu was denied by Jovinian, a monk turned playboy, whose attack on the maidenly motherhood of Mary was part of a wider campaign against the consecrated state of virginity. Jovinian’s heresy was condemned by synods held in Rome and Milan. The Synod of Milan, under the chairmanship of St Ambrose, invoked the words of the Apostles’ Creed,natus ex Maria Virgine, which imply that the very act of giving birth to her Son, not just her conceiving of Him, was maidenly in its manner. (13)

The chief objection raised by the heretics to the virginity in partu is that, in the eyes of its adversaries, it makes our Lord’s human birth and thus His human nature itself seem unreal. Does the doctrine not betray Gnostic or Manichean disdain for the flesh? Was it not a Gnostic, Valentinus, who taught that the Son of God merely “passed through” His Mother, as through a channel? (14)

In reply to this objection, we must again invoke the distinction made within the Tradition between what Christ is as man and how He comes to be man: as St Leo says, just because His conception and birth (how He comes to be man) are miraculous, it does not follow that His human nature (what He is as man) is dissimilar to ours. (15) In the manner of His human birth, says St Thomas, Christ wants to reveal the truth not only of His humanity but also of His Divinity. That is why “He mingled marvelous things with humble ones. Thus, to show His body was real, He is born of a woman, but to show His divinity, He is born of a virgin, for, as St Ambrose says in his hymn on the Nativity, ‘Such birth befits the God of all.’” (16) The heretic Valentinus denied that the Son of God took anything from His Mother, whereas the Church confesses that He is man “from the substance of His Mother,” (17) that His flesh is fashioned by the Holy Spirit from His Mother’s pure blood. The virginity in partu is a miracle of the bodily order, a cherishing and beautifying of the Virgin’s flesh. Such a miracle would be of no interest to the Gnostics or Manicheans, who despised the body and sought for it no splendor. The preservation of virginity in partu manifests a God who not only creates the biological realm but also descends to its depths in person. Our Lady’s virginity is a quality of her soul as well as of her body. But the rational soul is the substantial form of the human body, making it to be what it is, the body of a human being. It is therefore fitting that its beauty should be manifested through the beauty of the body. We could even say that the virginity in partu is a kind of divinely instituted sacrament of the virginity in Mary’s soul. The matchless maidenhood is both corporeal and spiritual. As St Bernard says, “She was a virgin in body, a virgin in mind, a virgin in profession, a holy virgin in spirit and body.” (18)

So the erroneous idea that the Virgin Birth takes away from the reality of the humanity of Christ is almost as old as the Church.  It is not a blinding insight from Theology of the Body, but a tired, old decrepit error.

See also, the work of Raphael Brown on the correlation of private revelation with the teaching of the Church on the matter of the Virgin Birth.