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Deacon Kevin’s Reflections for the 2nd Week of Advent

This guest post is by Deacon Kevin Bagley, Director of Verbum.

We journey closer to Christmas and our anticipation heightens. Last week Jesus spoke of the end times, and we now hear John the Baptist telling us to, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” We must live our lives as Jesus has asked if we want to be part of the Kingdom.

Isaiah tells us that we need to turn our hearts to God. The spirit of the Lord shall come, bestowing gifts upon us: wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. Along with piety, these are the spiritual gifts we receive at Confirmation. The Messiah is so powerful and his message so strong that he will bring peace and justice to all creatures.

Paul tells us that living a Christian life means maintaining peace with each other. During Advent, we should examine our relationship with God and also look at our relationships with others. Now is the time to become reconciled with one another. Now is the time to bring peace into strained relationships.

Take some time to discriminate between the messages you hear this Advent: John the Baptist asks us to prepare, but so do the merchants. John wants us to prepare for eternity; the merchants want us to prepare for a particular event. John urges us to turn to God and be saved; the merchants are ultimately interested selling their products. Yes, we want to have a wonderful Christmas, but if we are not good stewards and live the gospel message, eternity will be a living Hell, literally.

As a reminder: Monday, December 8, is a Holy Day of Obligation. We celebrate Mary’s Immaculate Conception. In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the very first instant of her conception, exempt from sin and clothed in sanctifying grace. It is a wonderful opportunity to gather in prayer as community and thank Mary for saying YES to God!

The Assumption of Mary and Pauline Theology

This post is by guest Brandon Ruphohn, Marketing Copywriter at Logos.

catholic-mariology-collectionIt’s the Feast of the Assumption! On this special day, we’re excited to announce our newest collection: the Catholic Mariology Collection (13 vols.), containing some of our most recently-shipped volumes on Mary and the subject of Mariology within a Catholic context.

But why is the Assumption of Mary important for Catholics?

The Marian doctrines don’t appear in the Nicene or Apostles’ Creeds, so our faith is not quite as dependent upon them as, for example, Jesus’ resurrection or the apostolicity of the Church. However, Marian doctrines are by no means optional or frivolous: they help us understand Christ and our relationship with him.

Mary plays a unique role in our understanding of Christ. Being his mother, she must have known him intimately, personally, and spiritually. As a loving and dedicated Jewish woman, Mary raised Jesus in obedience to God and to the Torah (Luke 2:21-24, 39-41), and was rewarded with a holy and devout son. Luke recounts that she “kept all these things in her heart” (2:51). Mary was what Christians today aspire to be: to be among those who truly know Jesus intimately, personally, spiritually.

Paul, on the other hand, knew Jesus as a flash of light (Acts 9:3, Galatians 1:12). After his dramatic conversion experience, in which he was knocked off his horse and temporarily blinded, Paul probably spent several years in the desert of Arabia (Galatians 1:17-18), where he wrestled the implications of his encounter with the living person of Jesus. He had to re-evaluate Jewish theology, the Torah, and the Prophets, all of which he had loved so dearly and so legalistically. His experience with Jesus—though brief—was enough for him to dedicate the rest of his life in love of Christ.

Hans_Speckaert_-_Conversion_of_St_Paul_on_the_Road_to_Damascus_-_WGA21655

Conversion of St Paul on the Road to Damascus by Hans Speckaert

Regarding the Feast of the Assumption, it would appear that both Mary and Paul have the same hope to share with us. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains the significance of the Assumption:

Mary’s Assumption body and soul into heaven is for us a sign of sure hope, for it shows us, on our pilgrimage through time, the eschatological goal of which the sacrament of the Eucharist enables us even now to have a foretaste. 

(Sacramentum Caritatis 33)

The Assumption by Titian

Pope Benedict also illuminates today’s New Testament reading in his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist. The source and summit of our Catholic lives, the Eucharist provides a foretaste to the sanctified life ahead of us—that which Mary had already achieved through Christ’s merits. Paul refers to this life in today’s reading from 1 Corinthians:“In Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:22–23).

Barely four chapters earlier in the same letter, Paul reveals that it was Christ who taught him the institution of the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:23). He reminds us that the Eucharist is a serious matter for the church, that “whoever eat the bread or drinks the cup unworthily will have to answer for the body and the blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27). Here, we are reminded to examine ourselves, for “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” and so, we look forward to his coming again!

For just as Mary’s Assumption raises our eyes towards heaven, so too do we look to heaven to catch of glimpse of Jesus coming back down (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Until then, we proclaim Christ’s crucifixion. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” says Paul (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul resolved to know Christ crucified. To know Christ as Mary did during her 30 years with him—tragically culminating at the foot of the cross—or as Paul did through his conversion experience, is to know Jesus through his Paschal sacrifice.

The Eucharist is where we find a Christ we can know intimately, personally, and spiritually. As St. St. Louis de Montfort (included in the new Catholic Mariology Collection) recommends to us, “When Mass is over, make a short thanksgiving.… Then leave the church, as if you were going down from Calvary.” Both Mary and Paul direct us to Christ upon the Cross as a means of knowing who Christ truly is.

 

Enrich and Deepen Your Faith with Scott Hahn’s 2-Volume Set!

This guest post was written by James Battle, Catholic Marketing Specialist here at Verbum

As a Catholic convert, two Verbum books have especially encouraged and accelerated my faith. I own hard copies of both of them:  one I read cover-to-cover, but the other was far denser, and I never finished it. Buying a book I do not finish is not unusual for me. I know, like many other bibliophiles, that there are many books bought in the heat of the moment, and sit on the shelf unfinished, waiting for the proper mood or motivation. What is unusual, though, is that both books were written by the same author: Scott Hahn.

The Lamb’s Supper  is a book I picked up early in my conversion process, shortly after I began attending Mass. I was consistently struck by the way the liturgy is packed full of scriptural references and symbolism from the book of Revelations. It was truly eye-opening! The Lamb’s Supper very quickly made the initially confusing Mass sensible, especially since I was an outsider who had a particular fascination with St. John’s prophetic and strange symbolism. It was easy to read, and served as a guidebook that tied scripture to the liturgy. I enjoyed Dr. Hahn’s writing so much that I eventually picked up Hail, Holy Queen—although I was warned that it was not bedside table reading.

That advice turned out to be quite accurate. Hail, Holy Queen was not merely peppered with scriptural references—there were often many in each paragraph—but also, there were many references to Catholic tradition: the Church Fathers, Vatican II documents, papal encyclicals, and the Catechism. These were all much newer to me at the time, and so the book sat.

After picking up the 2-volume Scott Hahn collection in Verbum, however, The Lamb’s Supper turned from a scriptural guide into a base camp for scaling the mountain of Catholic tradition regarding marriage, the Communion of Saints, apostolic succession, and much more.

It was Hail, Holy Queen that I found most profoundly transformative, however. Since all of the footnotes and references to Church documents and tradition are just a click away in Verbum, I ditched my hard copy and read the digital version. Using my Verbum library, I followed Dr. Hahn’s line of thought much more easily than with the printed book, because I could read up on source material instantly and was able to fully understand what the author was communicating. In short: I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That is, until I was able to dive in with just a few clicks.

Even if you have favorite books in paper form—get the Verbum edition! You will love reading your favorite passages in a new light with the source material right at hand. If you have books in print that you’ve never finished—get the Verbum edition! Regardless of what motivated you to purchase the book in the first place, Verbum will make all the information contained with the text easier to access and understand. Also, you can always join the Verbum group on Faithlife, and find like-minded friends who will be glad to read along and explore the Faith with you.

This 2-volume set from Scott Hahn is discounted through the end of July. Take advantage of the opportunity to enrich and deepen your faith today!

 

“The Secret of All Joy”: Finding Mary in the Month of May

This post was written by Kathryn Hogan, acquisitions editor here at Verbum

The intriguing title of Thomas Merton’s essay, “A Woman Clothed with the Sun,” comes from St. John’s Revelations. Merton’s main point is that God tells us very little about Mary. Paradoxically, as Merton points out, the little we know about Mary proclaims exactly what God wishes us to know about her: she is hidden and obscure, and that is the key to her sanctity.

annunciation-1442

What I had never considered, before reading this essay, is that God wants it that way; and that, in fact, what Merton calls Mary’s “hiddenness” is a model for us in our search for holiness. Mary’s selflessness allows God’s will to be brought to fulfillment in her, above all the other saints. Merton argues that Mary’s emptiness allows her to act as a window that most perfectly lets the light of God’s grace into her soul and to amplify it in her life. We can find Mary “living in the midst of Scripture,” as Merton states, and we can be confident that her example will always lead us to her son, Jesus.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Merton’s prescient essay is that he discerns one of the biggest problems of our current age: the relentless and obsessive drive to expose ourselves, to seek recognition, and even renown, at all times, for even the most mundane aspects of our lives. In stark contrast, Merton identifies Mary’s example of being unknown, and being willing to be unknown, as the highest priority in spiritual life: “to vanish from the sight of men and be accounted as nothing by the world and to disappear from one’s own self-conscious consideration and vanish in to nothingness in the immense poverty that is the adoration of God.” Strong words—and he continues: “This absolute emptiness, this poverty, this obscurity holds within it the secret of all joy because it is full of God.”

the-madonna-of-humility-adored-by-leonello-d-este.jpg!Large

At a time when our society seems to push us toward more and more self-revelation, to expose everything, from the trivial to the truly tasteless, on Facebook, selfies, and viral videos, it might be difficult to regard obscurity—not being known—as a benefit.

But Merton assures us that it is essential. The key to the essay, I think, is in a Latin quote from Proverbs, which Merton includes in the essay without comment or context:

For those who find me find life

and receive favor from the LORD (8:35).

The idea of “finding” threads through Scripture, from the parable of the man who found the pearl of great price to one of the most wonderful promises of Jesus: “Seek and you shall find.” Instead of revealing ourselves in a culture that exposes too much, and too much that is unimportant, let us instead find life by seeking what is hidden and consenting to be hidden, so that God’s will can be completed in us as it was in Mary.

Our Lady of Lourdes

Photo by Manuel González Olaechea y FrancoOn February 11, 1858, a young peasant girl was gathering firewood near a grotto in the small town of Lourdes, France. Seeing a “dazzling light,” she looked up at a nearbalcove and saw a “small young lady” standing there. Over the following weeks, this lady continued to appear to the young girl. She spoke of the need for prayer, penance, and faith in God. Word of this mysterious lady rapidly spread. Some believed the peasant girl’s reports. Others believed her to have a mental illness.

In the face of such skepticism, the claims of the peasant girl were subjected to intense scrutiny from the Church and the scientific community. The grotto, where miraculous healings were already being reported, was investigated by scientists. Patients claiming supernatural cures were examined by doctors. And the young girl was questioned by friends, family members, and numerous Church authorities.

After much deliberation, the Bishop of Tarbes issued the following declaration on January 18, 1862:

“We have . . . been advised by a commission composed of holy, learned and experienced priests who have questioned the child, studied the facts, examined and weighed everything. We have also sought the opinion of scientists and we are finally convinced that the Appearance is supernatural and divine, and that consequently, She whom Bernadette has seen is the Most Blessed Virgin Herself. Our conviction is based, not merely upon the testimony of Bernadette herself, but more especially upon the events which have taken place and which can only be explained by divine intervention.”[1]

Today, February 11, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This day marks the anniversary of St. Bernadette’s first encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary. The encounter, along with the events following it, have much to teach us—not only about our Holy Mother, but also about Holy Mother Church. By reading the stories of saints like Bernadette, we see how they harmonize with the Tradition of the Church. We see how they exemplify the love of Christ. And we see how they call us to a deep sense of humility.

This call to humility ought to profoundly challenge us. We are all too often stubborn, narrow-minded, and resistant to the possibility of encountering God in new ways. If young Bernadette were to come to us with news of a Marian apparition, we would be among those who called her crazy. Rather than responding in a spirit of charity, we judge, ridicule, and dismiss those whose experience is different than ours.

The Immaculate ConceptionThis attitude is directly challenged by Pope Francis in his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Speaking of popular piety, he encourages us to approach such expressions of the Faith “with the gaze of the Good Shepherd, who seeks not to judge but to love. Only from the affective connaturality born of love can we appreciate the theological life present in the piety of Christian peoples, especially among the poor.”[2] In this light, we can accept devotion to the Blessed Virgin as a valid expression of a faith-filled life. Heeding Francis’ warning to “not stifle or presume to control this missionary power,”[3] we also fulfill Paul’s charge to the Thessalonians when he tells them: “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying.”[4]

Yet this charge continues: “but test everything; hold fast what is good, abstain from every form of evil.”[5] The Church, while celebrating the piety of the poor and lowly, also respects reason. The investigation of the events at Lourdes demonstrates this fact. Not only was young Bernadette thoroughly questioned, Pope Pius X commissioned the Lourdes Medical Bureau to investigate all reported miraculous healings from a medical, rather than ecclesiastical, perspective. Having scrutinized thousands of people since its inception, the bureau has declared 69 cases to be scientifically inexplicable miracles.[6] This rigorous examination of the facts, respecting the lights of both faith and reason, demonstrates to the world that the Church has both a heart and a mind.

This is all well and good for our ability to trust the Church, and more importantly, our ability to love those around us (particularly the poor). But what of our own relationship with Mary? Do we believe that Our Lady of Lourdes has anything to offer to us? In answer to this question, the Church directs us to St. Louis de Montfort. Writing in the seventeenth century, he laments:

Is it not astonishing and pitiful to see the ignorance and short-sightedness of men with regard to your holy Mother? I am not speaking so much of idolaters and pagans who do not know you and consequently have no knowledge of her. I am not even speaking of heretics and schismatics who have left you and your holy Church and therefore are not interested in your holy Mother. I am speaking of Catholics, and even of educated Catholics, who profess to teach the faith to others but do not know you or your Mother except speculatively, in a dry, cold and sterile way.[7]

Coronation of the VirginThese words, coming from his Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, ought to resonate with us. Our rational and reductionist view of Christ and his Kingdom too easily precludes devotion to Mary and other forms of popular piety. We refuse to pray the rosary, simply because we have the Eucharist. We do not implore Mary or the saints for assistance, because our hearts have only room enough for Jesus. We completely miss the fact that Christ’s Kingdom is inherently relational, and that we are called to love everyone simply because Christ loves everyone. All of us on Earth and in heaven are inseparably woven together as members of one human family. And, as St. Louis de Montfort notes, the bond between us, Mary, and Jesus is perhaps the strongest of them all:

She is the sure means, the direct and immaculate way to Jesus and the perfect guide to him, it is through her that souls who are to shine forth in sanctity must find him. He who finds Mary finds life, that is, Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.[8]

Today, as we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, let us turn to Mary with humble hearts. Let us recognize our own poverty of Spirit. And let us discover anew the God who is love.


[1] Bertrand Laurence, Bishop of Tarbes, Report of the Episcopal Commission, January 18, 1862, http://www.miraclehunter.com/marian_apparitions/statements/lourdes_comm_report.html.

[3] Evangelii Gaudium, § 124

[4] 1 Thess. 5:19–20, RSVCE

[5] 1 Thess. 5:20–22

[6] Lourdes Medical Bureau, “Miraculous Cures in Lourdes,” June 20, 2013, http://en.lourdes-france.org/deepen/cures-and-miracles/miraculous-cures-in-lourdes

[7] St. Louis de Montfort, Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virigin, § 64, http://www.ewtn.com/library/montfort/truedevo.htm

[8] Ibid., § 50

 

This post was written by Brody Stewart, the Promotions Coordinator at Verbum.

St. Francis de Sales—Doctor of Mariology?

Today’s guest post is by Brandon Rappuhn, a Logos marketing copywriter.

We continue through the month of Mary, and I find myself surprised at some unexpected discoveries in Logos’ soon-to-come products.

St. Louis de Montfort in his Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, records that St. Francis de Sales is one of the Church’s foremost devotees to Mary (among Saints Ephrem, John Damascene, Bonaventure, etc.[1]). As I’ve said before, I’m quite fond of St. Francis de Sales. His spiritual directions have, for me, promoted a devout way of life in my lay vocation. Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God are the quintessential Frances de Sales texts; in my time reading his works, though, I haven’t come across any revelatory or notably profound sections on Mary. So now I’m dying to know: what does St. Francis de Sales have to say that caught St. Louis de Montfort’s attention?

I searched fervently through the writings of Francis de Sales, looking for the eloquent words of my favorite Doctor of the Church that had won Louis de Montfort’s respect—and I found nothing profound or startling. I discovered only the expected sermons on Mary and Joseph as examples for us to follow.

It wasn’t too longer afterward that I realized the Doctors of the Church are not always chosen for the writings they leave behind, but for the exemplary legacy of their lives. My study now takes an interesting turn: I began to look at the life of St. Francis de Sales, and not so much his writings.

Franz_von_SalesSt. Francis de Sales had much holiness and devotion to model ourselves after. In The Mystical Explanation of the Canticle of Canticles, St. Jane Frances de Chantal testifies to the life, practices, and teachings of St. Francis de Sales. St. Jane Frances reports that Francis de Sales prayed the Memorare and was instantly freed from an agony that tormented him for three weeks. He was said to have carried his rosary with him in his belt wherever he would go. In that text, St. Jane Frances de Chantal reported that Francis de Sales once said to her, “I have been feeling most strongly, how great a blessing it is to be a child, though an unworthy one, of this glorious Mother. Let us undertake great things under her patronage, for if we are ever so little dear to her, she will never leave us destitute of what we are struggling to attain.” St. Frances de Chantal further reported that “He said his rosary every day with extraordinary devotion, and use to tell me that he found all his help in the Blessed Sacrament and in that Holy Virgin from whom he had received special and even miraculous assistance, as I have before said.” It is now apparent why St. Louis de Montfort thought so highly of St. Francis de Sales.

St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal had already founded the order of the Nuns of the Visitation when he started writing Treatise on the Love of God. Treatise on the Love of God was written during his travels to and from Geneva and Savoy—the former being his bishopric and the latter being where the Convent of the Visitation had been founded, and where Saints Frances and Francis would give sermons about love, chastity, devotion, moderation, and other important virtues, which were eventually compiled in The Spiritual Conferences. (In fact, the sisters would crowd around him and ask him to read the latest chapters he had written in Treatise on the Love of God.)

His impact on the world—through preaching, founding religious orders, and even his private acts of devotion—have thus far spoken to me more than his words. I started my investigation of the patron of writers by studying his writing, only to realize that sainthood and sanctity is earned by holiness and devotion.[2]


[1] Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, page 103

[2] No one man has changed the course of history as much as has Jesus, and no man leaves for us a better or more perfect example of how we should live, and yet he left behind no writings for us. Even the words he wrote in the sand (John 8:6) are not recorded.

Mother of God, and the Mother of Us All

Today’s guest post is by Kyle Fuller, marketing promotion coordinator and Logos Bible Software.

When God came down from Heaven in the form of Jesus Christ, he could have come any way imaginable. Descending on a throne of clouds, rising from the waters, a chariot of fire, he could have come to Earth in a way fitting for our Creator, the King of kings. But how did he come?

Through a woman, and he called her Mother.

virgin-and-child.jpg!HalfHDAs we know from reading Sacred Scripture, Jesus did nothing by accident, and nothing was to be taken lightly. We believe in the Eucharist because Christ said at the Last Supper “Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26) This was a direct command, with nothing to be left desired or questioned. As Catholics, we take both what Jesus said and did very seriously, including the way he came into the world. Jesus having a mother conveys how much importance God places on mothers. He started his ministry at his mother’s insistence at the wedding of Cana (John 2:2-12), and at his crucifixion he left his mother in charge of looking over his creation (“Woman, behold your son” John 19:26).

Our parents are truly our first ministers. At our baptism, they profess the Catholic faith and promise to raise their children according to the faith. Mothers are the first parent that a child clings to for love and nourishment: They are our first examples of piety, charity, and selflessness.

My mother was and continues to be the foundation for my faith. I would not be the woman I am today without her guidance, encouragement, and ministry. Mothers are a vital part of our identity, and I thank God and the Holy Mother for blessing me with mine.

The Blessed Virgin is more than Christ’s mother—she is the mother of us all. I ask her to protect me, to fight for me, and to pray for me to our Lord. I look to her as the ultimate example of obedience, trust in the Lord, and unshakeable faith. I strive daily to follow her example so I can be a better Catholic, a better woman, and (one day) a better mother.

Jesus didn’t need a mother—he wanted one. Spend this Mothers Day reflecting on the the gift of motherhood.

To learn more about your Holy Mother, get Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship 15% off with code Mary2013. 

 

St. Louis de Montfort and Modern Mariology

Today’s guest post is by Brandon Rappuhn, a Logos marketing copywriter.

In many ways, St. Louis de Montfort was the St. Dominic of the seventeenth century. He was a zealous traveling preacher, lived in poverty to meet the needs of those in poverty, and had a voracious approach to prayer and devotion. His work in spreading devotion through the rosary met with momentous success, and he founded three religious orders that imitated his practices of poverty, prayer, and charity: the Daughters of Wisdom, the Missionaries of the Company of Mary, and the Brothers of St. Gabriel. The feast of the rosary was introduced on the year of his death, and shortly thereafter, the Angelus was revitalized by Pope Benedict XIII. His three famous books, The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, The Secret of the Rosary, and The Secret of Mary, have all been gathered in the recent St. Louis de Montfort Collection.

E0EDDF0E-5A8E-46F6-BFDB-ABE436E19CE1St. Louis de Montfort came along during a period of advancement in the discussion of Mariology. Saints Bellarmine and Lawrence, along with Pope Alexander VII, advanced Thomas Aquinas’ twelfth-century investigations of Mariology, while Jesuits and Baroque artists produced more literature and artwork focused on the Virgin Mary than had ever previously existed.

Despite this advancement in Mariology, the Enlightenment era of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries marked a notable decline in Marian writings. The elevation of rationalism and empiricism challenged everything from Marian intercession to the Virgin Birth. The rosary was seldom prayed, the writings on Mary scaled back, and feast days for Mary were all but removed from the calendar. The persecution of the Catholic Church in France and Spain during this period also contributed to a decline in Marian studies (though St. Alphonsus Ligouri developed a few noteworthy texts on Mary, most notably The Glories of Mary.)

The rediscovery of St. Louis de Montfort’s famous works in the middle of the nineteenth century contributed to a spark in the revival of devotion to Mary and prayer through the rosary. Pope Alexander VII’s discussions of the Immaculate Conception were renewed by Pope Pius IX and the First Vatican Council, and the nineteenth century closed with the reign of the famous “Rosary Pope,” Leo XIII, who wrote a record number of encyclicals on the Virgin Mary.

Whether for your own personal devotions or for your investigation of Roman Catholic Mariology, we’ve compiled St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort’s famous writings on Community Pricing for you. Bid whatever price you think it’s worth—with the rest of the Verbum community, you can determine the price you’ll pay for the collection when it ships, often saving you hundreds of dollars in the long run. New to Community Pricing? Check out the video on the landing page and see how it works!

Behold, Your Mother: A Closer Look at Mary as the New Eve

Today’s guest post is by Kyle Fuller, marketing assistant at Logos Bible Software.

May is the month that the Church, starting in thirteenth century, has dedicated to reverence and veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In observance of this Marian month, let’s remember the miraculous things God did through her, and what we can learn from her obedience and love.

madonna-and-child-giving-blessings“What the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” —Lumen Gentium, 56

St. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians that Jesus Christ is the New Adam. “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). If in Christ Jesus we have the new Adam, then it is through the Blessed Virgin Mary that we have the new Eve.

“The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.” —Genesis 3:20

Eve was the mother of all Creation; beside Adam, she looked after all the lands and animals, and birthed humanity. Mary was, in turn, the mother of all the New Creation, looking after us after Christ died. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Jesus commanded on the Cross that Mary be the mother of his new Creation, that she look after us after his death (and ultimately his resurrection)—“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26–27). Both virgins brought forth new life, one for this world and one for the next.

Just as the former—that is, Eve—was seduced by the words of an angel so that she turned away from God by disobeying his word, so the latter—Mary—received the good news from an angel’s announcement in such a way as to give birth to God by obeying his word . . . And as the human race was subjected to death by a virgin, it was liberated by a virgin; a virgin’s disobedience was thus counterbalanced by a Virgin’s obedience. —St. Irenaeus, “Against Heresies” 3:22:24

Eve was created immaculate. She walked the Earth pure and unsullied by the stain of sin. In fact, sin did not enter the world until she and Adam brought it. Ever since the Fall, sin has been destroying the world, bringing men and women to their knees repenting and asking for God’s grace and mercy. But just as sin came into the world through a spotless virgin, so salvation would come through another. Eve lived her life disobeying God, falling into darkness and brokenness. Mary lived her life in obedience to God, even when it seemed an insurmountable task was placed before her.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is what Eve was created to be. God formed Eve because Adam needed “a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). Rather than helping Adam follow God’s commands, Eve aided him in turning away from God. Mary did the exact opposite. At the wedding of Cana, the Holy Mother encouraged her son to perform his first miracle, and show the world that he was the Christ, beginning his ministry. Both women were created to be helpers, but only one led a man into God’s obedience and plan—to be our savior.

If, then, piety is the virtue which binds us to the sources of all life, to God, to our parents, to the church, to Christ, certainly Christian piety binds us, in grateful love, to Mary—or our acceptance of Christ and of the mystery of our kinship with Him is imperfect, partial, and unfulfilled. —Cardinal John Wright

Jesus Christ is Lord. We are to look to him for grace, for mercy, and as the living Word of God. He is the Immanuel, “God with us,” and for our sake he sacrificed himself on the cross. He lived in obedience, whereas Adam lived in obstinacy. Mary, too, stands as an exemplar of humility, modeling everything we are supposed to be—obedient, trusting, and submissive to God’s will because he has shown us time and again he knows what is best for us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” he tells us through the Prophet Jeremiah. Yet for all of this, we often forsake the one who loves us more than we can comprehend. The Blessed Virgin Mary did not. She listened to the angel, said “yes” to God when Eve said “no,” and birthed the one who saved us all. Spend this May in prayer, offering your heart up to Mary, and ask yourself how you, too, can be a New Eve or Adam.

To celebrate the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are offering Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship and the Catholic for a Reason Collection—two resources that focus on Mary—for 15% off with the coupon code Mary2013.

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