Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sun, Dec 9, 2012 - Obedience, Baruch 5:1-9, Psalms 126, Luke 3:1-6, St Juan Diego, The Mystical City of God, The Divine History and Life of The Virgin Mother of God Book 3 Chapter 3 The Visitation, Vows of Religious Obedience Canon Law

Sunday,  December 9, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog:

Obedience, Baruch 5:1-9, Psalms 126, Luke 3:1-6, St Juan Diego, The Mystical City of God, The Divine History and Life of The Virgin Mother of God Book 3 Chapter 3 The Visitation, Vows of Religious Obedience Canon Law

Good Day Bloggers!  Happy Advent!
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!
Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone. The "Armageddon" is a pagan belief inspired by the evil one to create chaos and doubt in God. Trust in God, for He creates, He does not destroy and only God knows the hour of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ's second Coming, another chance at eternal salvation.  Think about how merciful God truly is as he keeps offering us second chances. He even gives the evil one a multitude of chances to atone. Simply be prepared by living everyday as a gift: Trust in God; Honor Jesus Mercy through the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist; and Utilize the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


December 2, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

Dear children, with motherly love and motherly patience anew I call you to live according to my Son, to spread His peace and His love, so that, as my apostles, you may accept God's truth with all your heart and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then you will be able to faithfully serve my Son, and show His love to others with your life. According to the love of my Son and my love, as a mother, I strive to bring all of my strayed children into my motherly embrace and to show them the way of faith. My children, help me in my motherly battle and pray with me that sinners may become aware of their sins and repent sincerely. Pray also for those whom my Son has chosen and consecrated in His name. Thank you." 

November 25, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

“Dear children! In this time of grace, I call all of you to renew prayer. Open yourselves to Holy Confession so that each of you may accept my call with the whole heart. I am with you and I protect you from the ruin of sin, but you must open yourselves to the way of conversion and holiness, that your heart may burn out of love for God. Give Him time and He will give Himself to you and thus, in the will of God you will discover the love and the joy of living. Thank you for having responded to my call.” ~ Blessed Virgin Mary

November 02, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children, as a mother I implore you to persevere as my apostles. I am praying to my Son to give you Divine wisdom and strength. I am praying that you may discern everything around you according to God’s truth and to strongly resist everything that wants to distance you from my Son. I am praying that you may witness the love of the Heavenly Father according to my Son. My children, great grace has been given to you to be witnesses of God’s love. Do not take the given responsibility lightly. Do not sadden my motherly heart. As a mother I desire to rely on my children, on my apostles. Through fasting and prayer you are opening the way for me to pray to my Son for Him to be beside you and for His name to be holy through you. Pray for the shepherds because none of this would be possible without them. Thank you."
~ Blessed Virgin Mary


Today's Word:  obedience  o·be·di·ence  [oh-bee-dee-uh ns]

Origin:  1150–1200; Middle English  < Old French  < Latin oboedientia.  See obedient, -ence

1. the state or quality of being obedient.
2. the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance: Military service demands obedience from its members.
3. a sphere of authority or jurisdiction, especially ecclesiastical.
4. Chiefly Ecclesiastical .

a. conformity to a monastic rule or the authority of a religious superior, especially on the part of one who has vowed such conformance.
b. the rule or authority that exacts such conformance.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 126:1-6

1 [Song of Ascents] When Yahweh brought back Zion's captives we lived in a dream;
2 then our mouths filled with laughter, and our lips with song. Then the nations kept saying, 'What great deeds Yahweh has done for them!'
3 Yes, Yahweh did great deeds for us, and we were overjoyed.
4 Bring back, Yahweh, our people from captivity like torrents in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears sing as they reap.
6 He went off, went off weeping, carrying the seed. He comes back, comes back singing, bringing in his sheaves.


Today's Epistle -   Baruch 5:1-9

1 Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress, put on the beauty of God's glory for evermore,
2 wrap the cloak of God's saving justice around you, put the diadem of the Eternal One's glory on your head,
3 for God means to show your splendour to every nation under heaven,
4 and the name God gives you for evermore will be, 'Peace-through-Justice, and Glory-through-Devotion'.
5 Arise, Jerusalem, stand on the heights and turn your eyes to the east: see your children reassembled from west and east at the Holy One's command, rejoicing because God has remembered.
6 Though they left you on foot driven by enemies, now God brings them back to you, carried gloriously, like a royal throne.
7 For God has decreed the flattening of each high mountain, of the everlasting hills, the filling of the valleys to make the ground level so that Israel can walk safely in God's glory.
8 And the forests and every fragrant tree will provide shade for Israel, at God's command;
9 for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with the mercy and saving justice which come from him. A copy of the letter which Jeremiah sent to those about to be led captive to Babylon by the king of the Babylonians, to tell them what he had been commanded by God:


Today's Gospel Reading - Luke 3: 1-6

John the Baptist’s preaching
Prepare for God’s coming
Luke 3:1-6

~Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.

Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

~Reading, A key to the reading:
The Gospel text of the second Sunday of Advent speaks us of John the Baptist, prophet, in the desert preparing the way for the Lord. For centuries, people were living in expectation of the coming of the Messiah, and the ever more burdensome Roman occupation increased the desire for the coming of the Liberator, the Saviour. The presence of John in the desert was a sign that God was once more visiting his people. Redemption was close at hand!

Luke is careful to place the coming of John the Baptist within the socio-political and religious context of the time. On the socio-political level, Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod governor of Galilee, and Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. Then, using a biblical text, Luke places John within the religious context of God’s plan and says that he came to prepare the realization of the secular hopes of the Messiah’s coming.

~A division of the text to help with the reading:
Luke 3:1-2: Placing John’s action in time and space
Luke 3:3: A summary of John’s political activities
Luke 3:4-6: Biblical light shed on John’s activities

~Gospel: Luke 3:1-6

1 In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar's reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the territories of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 and while the high-priesthood was held by Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah, in the desert. 3 He went through the whole Jordan area proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the sayings of Isaiah the prophet:  A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord,  make his paths straight! 5 Let every valley be filled in,  every mountain and hill be levelled,  winding ways be straightened  and rough roads made smooth, 6 and all humanity will see the salvation of God.

~A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

~Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What pleased or struck you most in this text? Why?
b) Where and when does John come on the scene? What is the significance of this specifying of the time and place?
c) What is the significance of the biblical references for an understanding of John’s activities?
d) Desert, way, paths, valley, mountain, hill, winding ways, rough roads: what is the significance of these images to better understand Jesus’ activities?
e) What is this text’s message for us today?

~For those who wish to go deeper into the theme Yesterday’s and today’s contexts:
* Luke places John’s activities in the 15th year of the governor Tiberius, Emperor of Rome. Tiberius was emperor from 14 to 37 A.D.. In 63 B.C., the Roman emperor had invaded Palestine and imposed a severe form of slavery on the people. Popular uprisings followed each other especially in Galilee, but were harshly suppressed by the Roman legions. From 4 B.C. to 6 A.D., that is while Archelaus was governor, violence broke out in Judea. This fact forced Joseph and Mary go back to Nazareth in Galilee and not to Bethlehem in Judea (Mt 2:22). In 6 A.D., Archelaus was deposed and Judea became a Roman Province whose Procurator was appointed directly by the Emperor of Rome. Pilate was one of these procurators. He ruled from 25 to 36. This change in the political regime brought a great calm, but occasional uprisings, such as the one of Barabbas (Mk 15:7) and their immediate repression by the Romans (Lk 13:1), were reminders of the extreme seriousness of the situation. Any little spark was enough to create the fire of revolt! Calm was just a truce, an occasion offered by history, by God, for people to look again at the journey they had undertaken (cf Lk 13:3.5) and, thus, avoid complete destruction. Rome was cruel. Any revolt would spell the end of the Temple and the Nation (Giovanni 11:48; cf Lk 13:34-35; 19:41-44).

* It is in this context, about the year 28 A.D., that John the Baptist comes on the scene as prophet in the desert. Luke speaks of the great expectation that arose among the people concerning the preaching of John the Baptist, who proclaimed a baptism of conversion for the forgiveness of sin. Today too there is a great desire for conversion and reconciliation with God, which manifests itself in various ways: the search for meaning in life, the search for spirituality, the international movement of the World Social Forum “A different world is possible!”, and many other religious movements. Social workers and politicians are searching for a more human world and thus confirm this desire for conversion or reconciliation with God. Advent is the proper time to renew in us this desire for change, for conversion and for coming closer to God.

~A commentary on the text:
Luke 3:1-2: Recalling the old prophets
The way Luke introduces the preaching of John is very similar to the introduction to the books of the old prophets. These mentioned the names of the kings of the time of the prophets’ activities. See, for instance, Isaiah (Is 1:1), Jeremiah (Jr 1:1-3), Hosea (Hos 1:1), Amos (Am 1:1) and others. Luke does the same thing so as to say that if for nearly 500 years there was no prophet, now a new prophet has come by the name of John, son of Zachary and Elizabeth. Luke is concerned with placing these events in time and space. He introduces the names of the governors and describes the places where John worked. In fact, salvation history is not separate from human and personal history.

This concern of Luke’s, arouses our curiosity. Today, when a person is ordained to the priesthood or professes final vows, it is usual to print a holy card recalling the date and place of ordination or profession and some meaningful phrase from the Bible or a saint is included to express the significance of the ordination or profession in the life of the person concerned. However, we never come across a holy card saying, for instance, “In the fifth year of Bush, president of the United States; Blair being president of the council of the United Kingdom; Prodi president of the council of Italy; Zapatero president of the council of Spain; and Joseph Ratzinger Pope, named Benedict XVI, I received my priestly ordination to proclaim the Good News to the poor, to give sight to the blind, to free the oppressed and to proclaim a year of grace of the Lord!” Why does Luke choose to give the dates of salvation history together with those of the history of humankind?

Luke 3:3: Repentance and forgiveness
John goes through the region of the Jordan preaching a baptism of penance so as to obtain pardon for one’s sins. Repentance (in Greek: metanoia) means change, not just in one’s moral behaviour, but also and above all in one’s mentality. Change in one’s way of thinking! People were to become aware that their way of thinking, influenced by the “yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod” (Mk 8:15), that is by the government’s propaganda and by the official religion, was wrong and had to change. Pardon brings with it reconciliation with God and with the neighbour. In this way, John was proclaiming a new way for the people to relate to God. Reconciliation will also be the mark of Jesus’ preaching: reconciliation even “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22).

Luke 3:4-6: A definition of John’s mission
Luke quotes the following text from Isaiah to assist readers to better understand the meaning of John’s preaching: “A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the desert a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the wastelands. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be levelled, every cliff become a plateau, every escarpment a plain; then the glory of Yahweh will be revealed and all humanity will see it together for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken’” (Is 40:3-5). In this text, Isaiah proclaimed the people’s return from exile to Palestine and he described it as though it were another Exodus. It was as if the people, coming back from the servitude of Babylon, were leaving Egypt and entering once more into the desert. For Luke, Jesus begins a new exodus prepared by the preaching of John in the desert.

The Gospels of Matthew (Mt 3:3) and Mark (Mk 1:3) also quote the same section of Isaiah, but they only quote the first part (Is 40:3). Luke quotes the full text up to the point where Isaiah says: “and all humanity will see the glory of the Lord” (Is 40:5). The expression “all humanity” means every human being. This little difference shows Luke’s concern for the communities, that the prophets had already foreseen this openness to the pagans! Jesus came not only for the Jews but so that “every human being” might see the saving power of God. Luke wrote his Gospel for the community in Greece who, for the most part, were converted pagans.

~Further information:
John, the prophet – Since the sixth century before Christ, prophecy had ceased. "No prophet any more", it was said (Ps 74:9). People lived in expectation of the prophet promised by Moses (Dt 18:15; 1 Mac 4:46; 14:41). This long waiting period ended with the coming of John (Lk 16:16). The people did not consider John as a rebel like Barabbas, or like a Scribe or Pharisee, but as a prophet longed for by all (Lk 1:76). Many thought he was the Messiah. Even in Luke’s time, in the 80’s, there were still those who thought John was the Messiah (Acts 19:1-6).

John appears and proclaims: "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand!" (Mt 3:2). He was jailed because of his courage in denouncing the errors of the people and of those in authority (Lk 3:19-20). When Jesus heard that John was in prison, he went back to Galilee and proclaimed the same message as John: "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the gospel" (Mk 1:15). Jesus carries on from where John left off and goes further. The Old Testament ends with John and in Jesus the New Testament begins. Jesus even says: “I tell you, of all the children born to women, there is no one greater than John, yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Lk 7:28).

The content of John’s preaching (Luke 3:7-18) – John draws the crowds by preaching a baptism of change and forgiveness of sins. This shows that people were ready to change and wanted to relate to God in a new way. John denounced errors and attacked privileges. He said that being children of Abraham was no guarantee nor did it give any advantage before God. For God, he said, the stone and the child of Abraham were the same, because "God can raise children of Abraham from these stones!" (LK 3,8) That which advances a person in God’s sight is not the privilege of being a child of Abraham but actions that produce good fruit.

Luke talks of three categories of people who ask of John: “What must we do?”: the people (Lk 3:10), the publicans (Lk 3:12) and the soldiers (Lk 3:14). The answer for the people is simple: “Anyone who has two tunics must share with the one who has none, and anyone with something to eat must do the same!” (Lk 3:11) This is a clear answer: sharing of goods is the condition for receiving God’s presence and to pass from the Old to the New Testament. In his answer to the publicans (Lk 3:13) and to the soldiers (Lk 3:14), John asks for the same thing, but applies it to their situation. The publicans must not receive more than is permitted. The exploitation of the people by the publicans was a plague in the society of those days. Soldiers must not resort to extortion or false accusations and must be satisfied with their wages.

In the 80’s, when Luke is writing, many people still thought that John was the Messiah (Cfr Acts 19:3; 13,15). Luke quotes John’s own words to help readers to place the figure of John within the framework of salvation history. John acknowledges that Jesus is stronger. The difference between him and Jesus is in the gift of the Spirit who will be transmitted through Jesus. Luke shows that John’s concept of the Messiah was incomplete. For John, the Messiah would be a severe judge, ready to pass judgement and to punish (Lk 3:17). Perhaps that is why John, later, had difficulty recognizing Jesus as the Messiah (Lk 7:18-28), since Jesus did not behave like a severe Judge who punished. Rather he said: “I judge no one!” (Jn 8:15; 12:47) Rather than judging and punishing, Jesus showed tenderness, welcomed sinners and ate with them.

Praying Psalm 15 (14)
Lord, who can enter your sanctuary?
Yahweh, who can find a home in your tent,
who can dwell on your holy mountain?
Whoever lives blamelessly,
who acts uprightly,
who speaks the truth from the heart,
who keeps the tongue under control,
who does not wrong a comrade,
who casts no discredit on a neighbour,
who looks with scorn on the vile,
but honours those who fear Yahweh,
who stands by an oath at any cost,
who asks no interest on loans,
who takes no bribe to harm the innocent.
No one who so acts can ever be shaken.
Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Saint Juan Diego

Feast Day:  December 9
Patron Saint 

St Juan Diego,  guadlaupe
Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin or Juan Diego (July 12, 1474–May 30, 1548) was a 16th century indigenous Native American from Mexico who reportedly saw a Marian apparition in 1531 now known as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The apparition has had a significant impact on the spread of the Catholic faith within Mexico. The Catholic Church canonized him in 2002 as its first indigenous American saint.

The reality of Juan Diego's existence has been questioned by a number of experts on the early religious history of New Spain including Bernardino de Sahagun, Joaquin Garcia Icazbalceta, Stafford Poole, Louise Burkhart and David Brading, who argue that there is a complete lack of sources about Juan Diego's existence prior to the publication of the Nican Mopohua a century later, in 1649 (they do not accept the validity of the Codex Escalada as historical evidence). 

Notwithstanding these doubts, the findings of an interdisciplinary study, by nearly two dozen experts involving a prominent Mexican university and a noted American scholar of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican linguistics and anthropology, all indicated authenticity of the document and 16th century origin.


The two primary sources to the life of Juan Diego are from 1648 and 1649. The first account, Imagen de la Virgen Maria, Madre de Dios de Guadalupe, Milagrosamente aparecida en la Ciudad de México, was written in Spanish by the priest Miguel Sánchez. It relates how Juan Diego witnessed the apparitions, how he informed Bishop Zumárraga, the miracles of the tilmahtli and the roses, the apparition to Juan Bernardino (Juan Diego's uncle), and how the shrine to Guadalupe was instated. According to contemporary sources this was the first time the apparition story was told to a wide audience. Some historians have suggested that Sánchez built his account on an indigenous oral tradition local to the area, a variant of the earlier legend of the appearance of the Virgin of Los Remedios. The Virgin of Remedios was a popular saint to whom several miraculous curings were attributed, among them the curing of an indigenous herdsman near Tepeyac and of a construction worker in Tacuba.

The stories of the Virgen de Guadalupe and Virgen de Los Remedios have several similarities, and have often been confused. Historians have suggested that the Nican Mopohua can be understood as a variation of the legend of the miracle of the Virgin de los Remedios. The second source which is more famous than Sánchez' and goes into more detail about Juan Diego is the Huei tlamahuiçoltica (which include "Nican Mopohua") written in Classical Nahuatl by Mexican priest and lawyer Luis Laso de la Vega and published in 1649.

The historic veracity of both sources is considered questionable by many historians. The primary doubts arise in the dearth of sources about the apparition and consequently about Juan Diego in the 117 years between the time given for the apparition and the first publication of the story. Also the fact that the story was described as being previously unknown by those who read its first publication. Furthermore the fact that Bishop Zúmarraga who figures as a prominent character in the account has not left any mention of either Juan Diego or the apparition in his otherwise ample correspondence is a problem for the credibility of the accounts. The problems with the historicity of Juan Diego was recognized as early as 1883 by Joaquín García Icazbalceta historian and the biographer of Archbishop Juan de Zumárraga, in private letter to the Mexican Bishop Icazbalceta concluded that there was no historical basis for the character of Juan Diego.

In 1995 a deer skin codex pictorially demonstrating the apparition and the life of Juan Diego appeared in the possession of Xavier Escalada, a Jesuit writing an encyclopedia of the Guadalupan tradition. This unprovenanced document, previously unknown to historians and archivists, became referred to as the Codex Escalada. This was at a time when the process of canonization was at a halt and historians and theologians were beginning to voice doubts about the veracity of the legend. The Codex seemed to provide ineffable proof of the historicity of the accounts of Sánchez and Laso de la Vega. To further strengthen its force of proof it bore the signatures of the important historical figures Antonio Valeriano and Bernardino de Sahagún which seemed to date it unequivocally to the mid 16th century around the time of the apparition. The Codex, however, was studied by approximately twenty experts in various specialties, including the Physics Institute of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and anthropologist, linguist, and scholar of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, Charles E. Dibble of the University of Utah, as well by experts in graphology from the Bank of Mexico; the findings all indicate authenticity of the document and 16th century origin. Destructive radiocarbon dating, which might have established the age of the codex, was not permitted. The sheer timing of the Codex' appearance was seen by some historians as suspicious, and the source is not regarded by them as an historical document but rather a crude nineteenth-century forgery, full of anachronisms and errors.


According to the Nican Mopohua, Juan Diego was born in the year 1474 in the calpulli of Tlayacac in Cuautitlán, a small Indian village some 20 km (12 mi) to the north of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). Another source indicated that Juan Diego was born on July 12, 1474. His original or birth name was Cuauhtlatoatzin (alternately rendered as Quauhtatoatzin, Guauhtlatoatzin, or Cuatliztactzin), which has been translated as "Talking Eagle" in the Nahuatl language.

Conversion to Catholicism

A farmer, landowner and weaver of mats, he witnessed the Spanish conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés in 1521, when he was 47 years old. Following the invasion, in 1524, the first 12 Franciscan missionaries arrived in what is now Mexico City.

Cuauhtlatoatzin and his wife welcomed the Franciscans in 1524 or 1525 and were among the first to be baptized — he taking the Christian name of Juan Diego; she, Maria Lucia. Later, they moved to Tolpetlac to be closer to Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) and the Catholic mission that had been set up by the Franciscan friars.
According to his legend, after hearing a sermon On the virtue of chastity, they reportedly decided to live chaste lives[citation needed] . This decision was later cited as a possible reason for which the Virgin Mary chose to appear to Juan Diego[citation needed] . In 1529, a few years after her baptism, Maria Lucia became sick and died. According to Sánchez' account Juan Diego and his wife had lived in celibacy for their entire lives; this would be extraordinary since he lived the first 47 years of his life according to pre-Columbian indigenous customs that only prescribed celibacy for the highest priesthood. The Nican Mopohua adds the detail about his celibacy ending after his first sermon. Juan Diego found the Virgin Mary when he was 57.

Apparition on Tepeyac Hill

As a widower, Juan Diego walked every Saturday and Sunday to church, and on cold mornings, wore a woven cloth called a tilma, or ayate made with coarse fibers from the maguey cactus, as cotton was only used by the upper class Aztec.

On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, he reported the following: As he was walking to church, he heard the sound of birds singing on Tepeyac hill and someone calling his name. He ran up the hill, and there saw a Lady, about fourteen years of age, resembling an Aztec princess in appearance, and surrounded by light. The Lady spoke to him in Nahuatl, his native tongue. She called him Little t,” her little son. He responded by calling her “Xocoyote,” his youngest child. The Lady asked Juan Diego to tell the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumárraga, that she wanted a “teocalli,” a shrine, to be built on the spot where she stood, in her honor, where:

"I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me , of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes."

Recognizing the Lady as the Virgin Mary, Juan Diego went to the bishop as instructed, but the Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga was doubtful and told Juan Diego he needed a sign. Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac hill and explained to the Lady that the bishop did not believe him. He implored the Lady to use another messenger, insisting he was not worthy. The Lady however insisted that it was of the utmost importance that it be Diego speaking to the bishop on her behalf. On Sunday, Juan Diego did as the Lady directed, but again the bishop asked for a sign. Later that day, the Lady promised Juan Diego she would give him a sign the following day.

According to the Nican Mopohua, he returned home that night to his uncle Juan Bernardino’s house, and discovered him seriously ill. The next morning, December 12, Juan Diego decided not to meet with the Lady, but to find a priest who could administer the last rites to his dying uncle. When he tried to skirt around Tepeyac hill, the Lady intercepted him, assured him his uncle would not die, and asked him to climb the hill and gather the flowers he found there. It was December, when normally nothing blooms in the cold. There, Diego's miracle of the roses occurred: he found roses from the region of Castille in Spain, former home of bishop Zumárraga. The Lady re-arranged the roses carefully inside the folded tilma that Juan Diego wore and told him not to open it before anyone but the bishop. When Juan Diego unfolded his tilma before the Bishop roses cascaded from his tilma, and an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe was miraculously impressed on the cloth, bringing the bishop to his knees.

According to the Nican Mopohua Zumárraga acknowledged the miracle and within two weeks, ordered a shrine to be built where the Virgin Mary had appeared. The bishop then entrusted the image to Juan Diego, who chose to live, until his death at about the age of 73 — on May 30, 1548 — as a hermit near the spot where the Virgin Mary had appeared. From his hermitage he cared for the chapel and the first pilgrims who came to pray there, propagating the account of the apparitions in Mexico. No records prior to 1648 exist showing that Bishop Zumárraga acknowledged the miracle or that he even knew of it.

Impact on Mexico and the Catholic Church

According to the traditional account, the original image of Our lady of Guadalupe miraculously appeared on the cloak of Juan Diego, on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City on December 12, 1531.
News of the apparition on Tepayac Hill spread quickly through Mexico; and in the seven years that followed, 1532 through 1538, the Indian people accepted the Spaniards and 8 million people were converted to the Catholic faith.

According to Daniel Lynch, director of the Apostolate of the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, "An amazing thing happened. Indians became reconciled to Spaniards. And we had a new race of people. Mixed blood. We called them "Mestizos". Our Lady of Guadalupe had appeared as a Mestiza. They call her the dark virgin, the little brown one."

Our Lady of Guadalupe, as the Virgin Mary came to be known in this context, still underpins the faith of many Catholics in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, and she is recognized as patron saint of all the Americas.

Interestingly, the years 1532 to 1538, which saw a large number of people join the Catholic Church in Mexico based on Juan Diego's vision, were right in the midst of the period of Protestant Reformation in Europe. Hence, as a large number of people left the Catholic Church in Europe, a large number of new Catholics appeared in Mexico, maintaining the overall strength of the Catholic Church. To this day, Latin America remains a major pillar of the Catholic Church.

Investigations, canonization and symbolism

Juan Diego was recognized by the Church soon after the apparition. He expressed a deep love for the Holy Eucharist, and by special permission of the Bishop he received Holy Communion three times a week, a highly unusual occurrence in those times.

In 1667, a Church investigation into the establishment of a feast day produced a document known as the Informaciones Jurídicas de 1666, purporting to gather information from informants whom had had some connection with Juan Diego. In 1723 a formal investigation into his life was ordered by Archbishop Lanziego y Equilaz.


On January 9, 1987, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared Juan Diego venerable. Pope John Paul II beatified him on May 6, 1990, during a Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, declaring December 9 Juan Diego's feast day, one day after Immaculate Conception and invoking him as “protector and advocate of the indigenous peoples.”

Controversy over the historical authenticity of Juan Diego was stirred in 1996 by Father Guillermo Schulenburg, a longtime abbot of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who called Juan Diego a mythical character.

The Vatican subsequently established a commission of 30 researchers from various countries to investigate the question. The commission's view was that Juan Diego had indeed existed, and the results of their research were presented to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints on October 28, 1998. Among research documents submitted at that time were 27 Guadalupe Indian documents.


Juan Diego was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 31, 2002. Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by catechesis and pictured him (who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf") as a model of humility.

Pope John Paul II - Homily During Juan Diego's Canonization - 31 July 2002

1. I thank you, Father ... that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was your gracious will" (Mt 11:25-26).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These words of Jesus in today's Gospel are a special invitation to us to praise and thank God for the gift of the first indigenous Saint of the American Continent.

With deep joy I have come on pilgrimage to this Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Marian heart of Mexico and of America, to proclaim the holiness of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the simple, humble Indian who contemplated the sweet and serene face of Our Lady of Tepeyac, so dear to the people of Mexico.

2. I am grateful for the kind words of Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, and for the warm hospitality of the people of this Primatial Archdiocese: my cordial greeting goes to everyone. I also greet with affection Cardinal Ernesto Corripio Ahumada, Archbishop Emeritus of Mexico City, and the other Cardinals, as well as the Bishops of Mexico, of America, of the Philippines and of other places in the world. I am likewise particularly grateful to the President and the civil Authorities for their presence at this celebration.

Today I address a very affectionate greeting to the many indigenous people who have come from the different regions of the country, representing the various ethnic groups and cultures which make up the rich, multifaceted Mexican reality. The Pope expresses his closeness to them, his deep respect and admiration, and receives them fraternally in the Lord's name.

3. What was Juan Diego like? Why did God look upon him? The Book of Sirach, as we have heard, teaches us that God alone "is mighty; he is glorified by the humble" (cf. Sir 3:20). Saint Paul's words, also proclaimed at this celebration, shed light on the divine way of bringing about salvation: "God chose what is low and despised in the world ... so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1 Cor 1:28,29).

It is moving to read the accounts of Guadalupe, sensitively written and steeped in tenderness. In them the Virgin Mary, the handmaid "who glorified the Lord" (Lk 1:46), reveals herself to Juan Diego as the Mother of the true God. As a sign, she gives him precious roses, and as he shows them to the Bishop, he discovers the blessed image of Our Lady imprinted on his tilma.

"The Guadalupe Event," as the Mexican Episcopate has pointed out, "meant the beginning of evangelization with a vitality that surpassed all expectations. Christ's message, through his Mother, took up the central elements of the indigenous culture, purified them and gave them the definitive sense of salvation" (14 May 2002, No. 8). Consequently Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and missionary meaning and are a model of perfectly inculturated evangelization.

4. "The Lord looks down from heaven, he sees all the sons of men" (Ps 33:13), we recited with the Psalmist, once again confessing our faith in God, who makes no distinctions of race or culture. In accepting the Christian message without forgoing his indigenous identity, Juan Diego discovered the profound truth of the new humanity, in which all are called to be children of God. Thus he facilitated the fruitful meeting of two worlds and became the catalyst for the new Mexican identity, closely united to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose mestizo face expresses her spiritual motherhood which embraces all Mexicans. This is why the witness of his life must continue to be the inspiration for the building up of the Mexican nation, encouraging brotherhood among all its children and ever helping to reconcile Mexico with its origins, values, and traditions.

The noble task of building a better Mexico, with greater justice and solidarity, demands the cooperation of all. In particular, it is necessary today to support the indigenous peoples in their legitimate aspirations, respecting and defending the authentic values of each ethnic group. Mexico needs its indigenous peoples and these peoples need Mexico!

Beloved bothers and sisters of every ethnic background of Mexico and America, today, in praising the Indian Juan Diego, I want to express to all of you the closeness of the Church and the Pope, embracing you with love and encouraging you to overcome with hope the difficult times you are going through.

5. At this decisive moment in Mexico's history, having already crossed the threshold of the new millennium, I entrust to the powerful intercession of Saint Juan Diego the joys and hopes, the fears and anxieties of the beloved Mexican people, whom I carry in my heart.

Blessed Juan Diego, a good, Christian Indian, whom simple people have always considered a saint! We ask you to accompany the Church on her pilgrimage in Mexico, so that she may be more evangelizing and more missionary each day. Encourage the Bishops, support the priests, inspire new and holy vocations, help all those who give their lives to the cause of Christ and the spread of his Kingdom.

Happy Juan Diego, true and faithful man! We entrust to you our lay brothers and sisters so that, feeling the call to holiness, they may imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, sustain the efforts of parents to give their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favor upon the pain of those who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those afflicted by poverty, loneliness, marginalization, or ignorance. May all people, civic leaders and ordinary citizens, always act in accordance with the demands of justice and with respect for the dignity of each person, so that in this way peace may be reinforced.

Beloved Juan Diego, "the talking eagle"! Show us the way that leads to the "Dark Virgin" of Tepeyac, that she may receive us in the depths of her heart, for she is the loving, compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God. Amen. 


By 1820, when the Mexican War of Independence from Spanish colonial rule ended, Our Lady of Guadalupe had come to symbolize the Mexican nation. The armies of both Miguel Hidalgo in 1810 and Emiliano Zapata in 1914 flew Guadalupan flags. The first president of Mexico adopted the name "Guadalupe Victoria" during the fight for independence from Spain. Today, the Virgin of Guadalupe remains a strong national and religious symbol in Mexico.

Many Mexicans also see the canonization of Juan Diego as a symbolic victory in the movement for greater recognition of their heritage reflected in the Catholic religion; Pope John Paul II held a Mass in Mexico that borrowed from Aztec traditions, including a reading from the Bible in Nahuatl. The Pope urged the Catholic Church in Mexico to be respectful of indigenous traditions and to incorporate them into religious ceremonies when appropriate.

Controversy over official depiction

There was controversy over the official image of Juan Diego selected by the Archdiocese of Mexico City in 2002. Critics feel that it depicts Juan Diego as having European features rather than the features of a Mexican Indian. Church officials responded that the depiction reflected the current ethnic make-up of Mexico.


Adams, David (31 July 2002). "Pope reaches out to Mexico". St. Petersburg Times (Mexico City: Times Publishing Company). Retrieved 2007-11-15.
Allen, John L., Jr. (28 December 2001). "Controversial figures set for canonization" (NCR Online reproduction). National Catholic Reporter (Kansas City, MO: The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company). ISSN 0027-8939. OCLC 42860339. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
Allen, John L., Jr. (25 January 2002). "Maybe he isn't real but he's almost a saint" (NCR Online reproduction). National Catholic Reporter (Kansas City, MO: The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company). ISSN 0027-8939. OCLC 42860339. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
Brading, D. A. (2001). Mexican Phoenix: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Image and Tradition Across Five Centuries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80131-1. OCLC 44868981.
Burkhart, Louise M. (2001). Before Guadalupe: The Virgin Mary in Early Colonial Nahuatl Literature. IMS Monograph Series Publication No. 13. Albany, NY: State University of New York at Albany, Institute for Mesoamerican Studies; distributed by University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-942041-21-6. OCLC 47790941.
Grayson, George W. (5 April 2002). "Canonizing Juan Diego: Mexico City politics" (Reprinted online at The Free Library). Commonweal (New York: Commonweal Foundation) 129 (7): 9. ISSN 0010-3330. OCLC 38584114.'s...-a084738847. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
León-Portilla, Miguel (2000). Tonantzin Guadalupe: pensamiento náhuatl y mensaje cristiano en el "Nicān mopōhua". Mexico D.F.: El Colegio Nacional, Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 978-968-16-6209-7. OCLC 47136909. (Spanish)
Luna, D. Marco A. (1939). Leyendas Mexicanas. Mexico D.F.. (Spanish)
Noguez, Xavier (1993). Documentos guadalupanos: un estudio sobre las fuentes tempranas en torno a las mariofanías en Tepeyacac. Mexico D.F.: El Colegio Mexiquense,Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 968-16-4206-6. OCLC 94178343. (Spanish)
Peralta, Alberto (2003). "El Códice 1548: Crítica a una supuesta fuente Guadalupana del Siglo XVI". Artículos. Proyecto Guadalupe. Retrieved 2006-12-01.(Spanish)
Poole, Stafford (1995). Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0-8165-1526-3. OCLC 31046653.
Poole, Stafford (14 June 2002). "Did Juan Diego exist? Revisiting the Saint Christopher syndrome" (Reprinted online at The Free Library, under the title "Did Juan Diego exist? Questions on the eve of canonization"). Commonweal (New York: Commonweal Foundation) 129 (12): 9–11. ISSN 0010-3330. OCLC 38584114. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
Poole, Stafford (2006). The Guadalupan Controversies in Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-5252-7. OCLC 64427328.
Restall, Matthew; Lisa Sousa, and Kevin Terraciano (2005). Mesoamerican Voices: Native-Language Writings from Colonial Mexico, Oaxaca, Yucatán, and Guatemala. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-01221-8. OCLC 60323147.


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    Today's  Snippet  I:  

    Book 3, Chapter 3
    The Mystical City of God, The Divine History and Life of The Virgin Mother of God

    "And Mary rising up in those days," says the sacred text, "went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Jude" (Luke 1, 39). This rising up of our heavenly Queen signified not only her exterior preparations and setting out from Nazareth on her journey, but it referred to the movement of her spirit and to the divine impulse and command which directed Her to arise interiorly from the humble retirement, which She had chosen in her humility. She arose as it were from the feet of the Most High, whose will and pleasure She eagerly sought to fulfill, like the lowliest handmaid, who according to the word of David (Ps. 122, 2) keeps her eyes fixed upon the hands of her Mistress, awaiting her commands. Arising at the bidding of the Lord She lovingly hastened to accomplish his most holy will, In procuring without delay the sanctification of the Precursor of the incarnate Word, who was yet held prisoner in the womb of Elisabeth by the bonds of original sin. This was the purpose and object of this journey. Therefore the Princess of heaven arose and proceeded in diligent haste, as mentioned by the Evangelist saint Luke.

    Leaving behind then the house of her father and forgetting her people (Ps. 44, 11), the most chaste spouses, Mary and Joseph, pursued their way to the house of Zacharias in mountainous Judea. It was twenty six leagues distant from Nazareth, and the greater part of the way was very rough and broken, unfit for such a delicate and tender Maiden. All the convenience at their disposal for the arduous undertaking was an humble beast, on which She began and pursued her journey. Although it was intended solely for her comfort and service, yet Mary, the most humble and unpretentious of all creatures, many times dismounted and asked her spouse saint Joseph to share with Her this commodity and to lighten the difficulties of the way by making use of the beast. Her discreet spouse never accepted this offer; and in order to yield somewhat to the solicitations of the heavenly Lady, he permitted her now and then to walk with him part of the way, whenever it seemed to him that her delicate strength could sustain the exertion without too great fatigue. But soon he would again ask Her, with great modesty and reverence, to accept of this slight alleviation and the celestial Queen would they obey and again proceed on her way seated in the saddle.

    Thus alleviating their fatigue by humble and courteous contentions, the most holy Mary and saint Joseph continued on their journey, making good use of each single moment. They proceeded alone, without accompaniment of any human creatures; but all the thousand angels, which were set to guard the couch of Solomon, the most holy Mary, attended upon them (Cant. 3, 7). Although the angels accompanied them in corporeal form, serving their great Queen and her most holy Son in her womb, they were visible only to Mary. In the company of the angels and of saint Joseph, the Mother of grace journeyed along, filling the fields and the mountains with the sweetest fragrance of her presence and with the divine praises, in which She unceasingly occupied herself. Sometimes She conversed with the angels and, alternately with them, sang divine canticles concerning the different mysteries of the Divinity and the works of Creation and of the Incarnation. Thus ever anew the pure heart of the immaculate Lady was inflamed by the ardors of divine love. In all this her spouse saint Joseph contributed his share by maintaining a discreet silence, and by allowing his beloved Spouse to pursue the flights of her spirit; for, lost in highest contemplation, he was favored with some understanding what was passing within her soul.

    At other times the two would converse with each other and speak about the salvation of souls and the mercies of the Lord, of the coming of the Redeemer, of the prophecies given to the ancient Fathers concerning Him, and of other mysteries and sacraments of the Most High. Something happened on the way, which caused great wonder in her holy spouse Joseph: he loved his Spouse most tenderly with a chaste and holy love, such as had been ordained in Him by the special grace and dispensation of the divine love itself (Cant. 2, 4); in addition to this privilege (which was certainly not a small one) the saint was naturally of a most noble and courteous disposition, and his manners were most pleasing and charming; all this produced in him a most discreet and loving solicitude, which was yet increased by the great holiness, which he had seen from the beginning in his Spouse and which was ordained by heaven as the immediate object of all his privileges. Therefore the saint anxiously attended upon most holy Mary and asked her many times, whether She was tired or fatigued, and in what He could serve Her on the journey. But as the Queen of heaven already carried within the virginal chamber the divine fire of the incarnate Word, holy Joseph, without fathoming the real cause, experienced in his soul new reactions, proceeding from the words and conversations of his beloved Spouse. He felt himself so inflamed by divine love and imbued with such exalted knowledge of the mysteries touched upon in their conversations, that he was entirely renewed and spiritualized by this burning interior light. The farther they proceeded and the more they conversed about these heavenly things, so much the stronger these affections grew, and he became aware, that it was the words of his Spouse, which thus filled his heart with love and inflamed his will with divine ardor.

    Having pursued their journey four days, the most holy Mary and her spouse arrived at the town of Juda, where Zachary and Elisabeth then lived. This was the special and proper name of the place, where the parents of saint John lived for a while, and therefore the Evangelist saint Luke specifies it, calling it Juda, although the commentators have commonly believed that this was not the name of the town in which Elisabeth and Zacharias lived, but simply the name of the province, which was called Juda or Judea; just as for the same reason the mountains south of Jerusalem were called the mountains of Judea. But it was expressly revealed to me that the town was called Juda and that the Evangelist calls it by its proper name; although the learned expositors have understood by this name of Juda the province, in which that town was situated. This confusion arose from the fact that some years after the death of Christ the town Juda was destroyed, and, as the commentators found no trace of such a town, they inferred that saint Luke meant the province and not a town; thus the great differences of opinion in regard to the place, where most holy Mary visited Elisabeth, are easily explained.

    It was at this city of Juda and at the house of Zacharias that most holy Mary and Joseph arrived. In order to announce their visit, saint Joseph hastened ahead of Mary and calling out saluted the inmate the house, saying: "The Lord be with you and fill souls with divine grace." Elisabeth was already forewarned, for the Lord himself had informed her in a vision that Mary of Nazareth had departed to visit her. She had also in this vision been made aware that the heavenly Lady was most pleasing in the eyes of the Most High; while the mystery of her being the Mother God was not revealed to her until the moment, when they both saluted each other in private. But saint Elisabeth immediately issued forth with a few of her family, in order to welcome most holy Mary, who, as the more humble and younger in years, hastened to salute her cousin, saying: "The Lord be with you, my dearest cousin, and Elisabeth answered : "The same Lord reward you for having come in order to afford me this pleasure.'' With these words they entered the house of Zacharias and what happened I will relate in the following chapter.

    After the first salutation of Elisabeth by the most holy Mary, the two cousins retired, as I have said at the end of the preceding chapter. And immediately the Mother of grace saluted anew her cousin saying: "May God save thee, my dearest cousin, and may his divine light communicate to thee grace and life'' (Luke 1, 40). At the sound of most holy Mary's voice, saint Elisabeth was filled by the Holy Ghost and so enlightened interiorly, that in one instant she perceived most exalted mysteries and sacraments. These emotions, and those that at the same time were felt by the child John in the womb of his mother, were caused by the presence of the Word made flesh in the bridal chamber of Mary's womb, for, making use of the voice of Mary as his instrument, He, as Redeemer, began from that place to use the power given to Him by the eternal Father for the salvation and justification of the souls. And since He now operated as man, though as yet of the diminutive size of one conceived eight days before, He assumed, in admirable humility, the form and posture of one praying and beseeching the Father. He asked in earnest prayer for the justification of his future Precursor and obtained it at the hands of the blessed Trinity.

    This happened before the most holy Mary had put her salutation into words. At the pronunciation of the words mentioned above, God looked upon the child in the womb of saint Elisabeth, and gave it perfect use of reason, enlightening it with his divine light, in order that he might prepare himself by foreknowledge for the blessings which he was to receive. Together with this preparation he was sanctified from original sin, made an adopted son of God, and filled with the most abundant graces of the Holy Ghost and with the plenitude of all his gifts; his faculties were sanctified, subjected and subordinated to reason, thus verifying in himself what the archangel Gabriel had said to Zacharias; that His son would be filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb of his mother (Luke 1, 17). At the same time the fortunate child, looking through the walls of the maternal womb as through clear glass upon the incarnate Word, and assuming a kneeling posture, adored his Redeemer and Creator, whom he beheld in most holy Mary as if enclosed in a chamber made of the purest crystal. This was the movement of jubilation, which was felt by his mother Elisabeth as coming from the infant in her womb (Luke 1, 44). Many other acts of virtue the child John performed during this interview, exercising faith, hope, charity, worship, gratitude, humility, devotion and all the other virtues possible to him there. From that moment he began to merit and grow in sanctity, without ever losing it and without ever ceasing to exercise it with all the vigor of grace.

    Saint Elisabeth was instructed at the same time in the mystery of the Incarnation, the sanctification of her own son and the sacramental purpose of this new wonder. She also became aware of the virginal purity and of the dignity of the most holy Mary. On this occasion, the heavenly Queen, being absorbed in the vision of the Divinity and of the mysteries operated by it through her most holy Son, became entirely godlike, filled with the clear light of the divine gifts which She participated; and thus filled with majesty saint Elisabeth saw Her.
    Filled with admiration at what She saw and heard in regard to these divine mysteries, saint Elisabeth was wrapt in the joy of the Holy Ghost; and, looking upon the Queen of the world and what was contained in Her, she burst forth in loud voice of praise, pronouncing the words reported to us, by saint Luke: "Blessed are Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy, and blessed art Thou, that has believed, because those things shall be accomplished, that were spoken to Thee by the Lord." In these prophetic words saint Elisabeth rehearsed the noble privileges of most holy Mary, perceiving by the divine light what the power of the Lord had done in Her, what He now performed, and what He was to accomplish through Her in time to come. All this also the child John perceived and understood, while listening to the words of his mother; for she was enlightened for the purpose of his sanctification, and since he could not from his place in the womb bless and thank her by word of mouth, She, both for herself and for her son, extolled the most holy Mary as being the instrument of their good fortune.
    These words of praise, pronounced by saint Elisabeth were referred by the Mother of wisdom and humility to the Creator; and in the sweetest and softest voice She intoned the Magnificat as recorded by saint Luke (Ch. 1, 46-55)
    46. My soul doth magnify the Lord;
    47. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
    48. Because He hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
    49. Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me and holy is his name.
    50. And his mercy is from generation unto generation to them that fear him.
    51. He hath showed might in his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
    52. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble.
    53. He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich He hath sent empty away.
    54. He hath received Israel, his servant, being mindful of his mercy;
    55. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever."

    Just as saint Elisabeth was the first one who heard this sweet canticle from the mouth of most holy Mary, so she was also the first one who understood it and, by means of her infused knowledge, commented upon it. She penetrated some of the great mysteries. which its Authoress expressed therein in so few sentences. The soul of most holy Mary magnified the Lord for the excellence of his infinite Essence; to Him She referred and yielded all glory and praise (I Tim. 1, 17), both for the beginning and the accomplishment of her works. She knew and confessed that in God alone every creature should glory and rejoice, since He alone is their entire happiness and salvation (11 Cor. 10 17). She confessed also the equity and magnificence of the Most high in attending to the humble and in conferencing upon them his abundant spirit of divine love (Ps. 137, 6). She saw how worthy of mortals it is to perceive, understand and ponder the gifts that were conferred on the humility of Her, whom all nations were to call blessed, and how all the humble ones, each according to his degree, could share the same good fortune. By one word also She expressed all the mercies, benefits and blessings, which the Almighty showered upon Her in his holy and wonderful name; for She calls them altogether "great things" since there was nothing small about anything that referred to this great Queen and Lady.

    And as the mercies of the Most High overflowed from Mary's plenitude to the whole human race, and as She was the portal of heaven, through which they issued and continue to issue, and through which we are to enter into the participation of the Divinity; therefore She confessed, that the mercy of the Lord in regard Her is spread out over all the generations, communicating itself to them that fear Him. And just as the infinite mercies raise up the humble and seek out those that fear God; so also the powerful arm of divine justice scatters and destroys those who are proud in the mind of their heart, and hurls them from their thrones in order to set in their place the poor and lowly. This justice of the Lord was exercised in wonderful splendor and glory upon the chief of all the proud, Lucifer and his followers, when the almighty arm of God scattered and hurled them (because they themselves precipitated themselves) from their exalted seats which befitted their angelic natures and their graces, and which they occupied according to the original (Isaias 14; Apoc. 12) decree of the divine love. For by it He intended that all should be blessed (I Tim. 2, 4) while they, in trying to ascend in their vain pride to positions, which they neither could attain nor should aspire to, on the contrary cast themselves from those which they occupied (Isaias 14,13).

    When it was time to come forth from their retirement, saint Elisabeth offered herself and her whole family and all her house for the service of the Queen of heaven. She asked Her to accept, as a quiet retreat, the room which she herself was accustomed to use for her prayers, and which was much retired and accommodated to that purpose. The heavenly Princess accepted the chamber with humble thanks, and made use of it for recollecting Herself and sleeping therein, and no one ever entered it, except the two cousins. As for the rest She offered to serve and assist Elisabeth as a handmaid, for She said, that this was the purpose of visiting her and consoling her. O what friendship is so true, so sweet and inseparable, as that which is formed by the great bond of the divine love! How admirable is the Lord in manifesting this great sacrament of the Incarnation to three women before He would make it known to any one else in the human race! For the first was saint Anne, as I have said in its place; the second one was her Daughter and the Mother of the Word, most holy Mary; the third one was saint Elisabeth, and conjointly with Her, her son, for he being yet in the womb of his mother, cannot be considered as distinct from her. Thus "the foolishness of God is wiser than men," as saint Paul says.

    The most holy Mary and Elisabeth came forth from their retirement at nightfall, having passed a long time together; and the Queen saw Zacharias standing before her in his muteness, and She asked him for his blessing as from a priest of the Lord, which the saint also gave to Her. Yet, although She tenderly pitied him for his affliction, She did not exert her power to cure him, because She knew the mysterious occasion of his dumbness; yet She offered a prayer for him. Saint Elisabeth, who already knew the good fortune of the most chaste spouse Joseph, although he himself as yet was not aware of it, entertained and served him with great reverence and highest esteem. After staying three days in the house of Zacharias, however, he asked permission of his heavenly Spouse Mary to return to Nazareth and leave Her in the company of saint Elisabeth in order to assist her in her pregnancy. The holy husband left them with the understanding that he was to return in order to accompany the Queen home as soon as they should give him notice; saint Elisabeth offered him some presents to take home with him; but he would take only a small part of them, yielding only to their earnest solicitations, for this man of God was not only a lover of poverty, but was possessed of a magnanimous and noble heart. Therewith he pursued his way back to Nazareth, taking along with him the little beast of burden, which they had brought with them. At home, in the absence of his Spouse, he was served by a neighboring woman and cousin of his, who, also when most holy Mary was at home, was wont to come and go on necessary errands outside of the house.

    In conformity with this instruction and new mandate of the Most High, the Princess of heaven ordered all her occupations in the house of her cousin Elisabeth. She rose up at midnight in accordance with her former custom, spending the hours in the continued contemplation of the divine mysteries and giving to waking and sleep the time, which most perfectly and exactly agreed with the natural state and conditions of her body. In labor and repose She continued to receive new favors, illuminations, exaltation and caresses of the Lord. During these three months She had many visions of the Divinity, mostly abstractive in kind. More frequent still were the visions of the most holy humanity of the Word in its hypostatic union; for her virginal womb, in which She bore Him, served Her as her continual altar and sanctuary. She beheld the daily growth of that sacred body. By this experience and by the sacraments, which every day were made manifest to Her in the boundless fields of the divine power and essence, the spirit of this exalted Lady expanded to vast proportions. Many times would She have been consumed and have died by the violence of her affections, if She had not been strengthened by the power of the Lord. To these occupations, which were concealed from all, She added those, which the service and consolation of her cousin Elisabeth demanded, although She did not apply one moment more to them, than charity required. These fulfilled, She turned immediately to her solitude and recollection, where she could pour out the more freely her spirit before the Lord.

    Not less solicitous was She to occupy Herself interiorly, while She was engaged for many hours in manual occupations. And in all this the Precursor was so fortunate that the great Queen, with her own hands, sewed and prepared the swaddling clothes and coverlets in which he was to be wrapped and reared; for his mother Elisabeth, in her maternal solicitude and attention, had secured for saint John this good fortune humbly asking this favor of the heavenly Queen. Mary with incredible love and subjection complied with her request in order to exercise Herself in obedience to her cousin, whom She wished to serve as the lowest handmaid; for in humility and obedience most holy Mary always surpassed all men. Although saint Elisabeth sought to anticipate Her in much that belonged to her service, yet, in her rare prudence and wisdom, Mary knew flow to forestall her cousin, always gaining the triumph of humility.

    In this way most holy Mary put into practice the doctrine of the eternal Word who humiliated himself so far, that, being the form of the eternal Father, the figure of his substance, true God of the true God, He nevertheless assumed the form and condition of a servant (Heb. 1, 3, Philip 2, 6, 7). This Lady was the Mother of God, Queen of all creation, superior in excellence and dignity to all creatures, and yet She remained the humble servant of the least of them; and never would She accept homage and service as if due to Her, nor did She ever exalt Herself, or fail to judge of Herself in the most humble manner. What shall we now say of our most execrable presumption and pride? Since, full of the abomination of sin, we are so senseless as to claim for ourselves with dreadful insanity the homage and veneration of all the world? And if this is denied us, we quickly lose the little sense which our passions have left us. This whole heavenly history bears the stamp of humility, and is a condemnation of our pride. And since it is not my office to teach or correct, but to be taught and to be corrected, I beseech and pray all the faithful children of light to place this example before their eyes for our humiliation.

    It would not have been difficult for the Lord to preserve his most holy Mother from such extreme lowliness and from the occasions in which She embraced it He could have exalted Her before creatures, ordaining that She be renowned, honored and respected by all; just as He knew how to procure homage and renown for others as Assuerus did for Mardocheus. Perhaps, if this had been left to the judgment of men, they would have so managed that a Woman more holy than all the hierarchies of heaven, and who bore in her womb the Creator of the angels and of the heavens, should be surrounded by a continual guard of honor, withdrawn from the gaze of men and receiving the homage of all the world; it would have seemed to them unworthy of Her to engage in humble and servile occupations, or not to have all things done only at her command, or to refuse homage, or not to exercise fullest authority. So narrow is human wisdom, if that can be called wisdom, which is so limited. But such fallacy cannot creep into the true science of the saints, which is communicated to them by the infinite wisdom of the Creator, and which esteems at their just weight and price these honors without confounding the values of the creatures. The Most High would have denied his beloved Mother much and benefited Her little, if He had deprived and withdrawn from Her the occasion of exercising the profoundest humility and had instead exposed Her to the exterior applause of men. It would also be a great loss to the world to be without this school of humility and this example for the humiliation and confusion of its pride.

    The hour for the rising of the morning star, which was to precede the clear Sun of justice and announce the wished-for day of the law of grace, had arrived (John 5, 35). The time was suitable to the Most High for the appearance of his Prophet in the world; and greater than a prophet was John, who pointing out with his finger the Lamb (John 1, 29), was to prepare mankind for the salvation and sanctification of the world. Before issuing from the maternal womb the Lord revealed to the blessed child the hour in which he was to commence his mortal career among men. The child had the perfect use of his reason, and of the divine science infused by the presence of the incarnate Word. He therefore knew that he was to arrive at the port of a cursed and dangerous land, and to walk upon a world full of evils and snares, where many are overtaken by ruin and perdition.

    At the request of his mother the Queen received in her arms the newborn child and offered him as a new oblation to the eternal Father, and his Majesty, well pleased, accepted it as the first-fruits of the Incarnation and of the divine decrees. The most blessed child, full of the Holy Ghost, acknowledged his sovereign Queen, showing Her not only interior, but outward reverence by a secret inclination of his head, and again he adored the divine Word, which was manifested to him in her womb by an especial light. And as he also was aware, that he was privileged before all men, the grateful child performed acts of fervent thanksgiving, humility, love and reverence of God and of his Virgin Mother. The heavenly Queen, in offering him to the eternal Father, pronounced this prayer for him: "Highest Lord and Father, all holy and powerful, accept in thy honor this offering and seasonable fruit of thy most holy Son and my Lord. He is sanctified by the Onlybegotten and rescued from the effects of sin and from the power of thy ancient enemies. Receive this morning's sacrifice, and infuse into this child the blessings of thy holy Spirit, in order that he may be a faithful minister to Thee and to thy Onlybegotten." This prayer of our Queen was efficacious in all respects, and She perceived how the Lord enriched this child, chosen as his Precursor; and She also felt within Herself the effects of these admirable blessings.

    Then they bespoke the arrangements for the circumcision of the child, for the time appointed by the law was approaching. Complying with the custom observed among the Jews, especially among the more distinguished, many relatives and other acquaintances of the house of Zacharias began to gather, in order to resolve upon the name to be given to the child; for, in addition to the ordinary preparations and consultations concerning the name to be given to a son, the high position of Zacharias and Elisabeth and the news of the miraculous fecundity of the mother naturally suggested the existence of some great mystery to the minds of all their relations. Zacharias was still dumb, and therefore it was necessary that saint Elisabeth should preside at this meeting. Over and above the high esteem which she inspired, she now exhibited such evident signs of the exalted renewal and sanctification of her soul, which resulted from the knowledge of the mysteries and from her interactions with the Queen of heaven, that all her relatives and friends noticed the change. For even in her countenance she exhibited a kind of effulgence which made her mysteriously attractive and was the reflection of the Divinity, in whose presence she lived.

    The relatives then appealed by signs to Zacharias, who, being unable to speak, asked for a pen and declared his will by writing upon the tablet: "Johannes est nomen ejus." ''John is his name.'' At the same time most holy Mary, making use of her power over all nature, commanded the dumbness to leave him, his tongue to be loosened, as the moment had arrived when it should bless the Lord. At this heavenly command he found himself freed from his affliction, and, to the astonishment and fear of all present, he began to speak as narrated by the Evangelist. What I say here is not adverse to the Gospel narrative; for, although it is there related, that the angel foretold Zacharias that he should remain mute until his message should be fulfilled, yet God, when He reveals any decree of his will, absolutely unfailing as they are, does not always reveal the means or the manner of their fulfillment, foreseen by Him in his infinite foreknowledge. Thus the archangel announced to Zacharias the punishment of his unbelief, but he did not tell him that he should he freed from it by the intercession of most holy Mary, although this also had been foreseen and decreed.

    Therefore, just as the voice of our Lady Mary was the instrument for the sanctification of the child John and his mother, so her secret mandate and her intercession had the effect of loosening the tongue of Zacharias, filling him with the holy Spirit and the gift of prophecy. Hence he broke forth in the words (Luke 1, 68-79):

    1. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because He hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people:

    69. And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant:
    70. And he hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning;
    71. Salvation from our enemies, and from the hands of all that hate us:
    72. To perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy testament,
    73. The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us,
    74. That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear,
    75. In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
    76. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways:
    77. To give knowledge of salvation to his people:
    unto the remission of their sins:
    78. Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us
    79. To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.

    In the divine canticle of the Benedictus Zacharias embodied all of the highest mysteries, which the ancient prophets had foretold in a more profuse manner concerning the Divinity, Humanity and the Redemption of Christ, and in these few words he embraces many great sacraments. He also understood them by the grace and light, which filled his spirit, and which raised him up in the sight of all that had come to attend the circumcision of his son; for all of them were witnesses to the solving of his tongue and to his divine prophecies. I will hardly be able to give an explanation of the deep meaning of these prophecies, such as they had in the mind of that holy priest.

    At the call of Elisabeth, the most fortunate of husbands, saint Joseph, had come in order to attend most holy Mary on her return to her home in Nazareth. On arriving at the house of Zacharias he had been welcomed with indescribable reverence and devotion by saint Elisabeth and Zacharias; for now also the holy priest knew that he was the guardian of the sacramental treasures of heaven, though this was yet unknown to the great patriarch saint Joseph himself. His heavenly Spouse received him in modest and discreet jubilation. and, kneeling before him, She, as usual, besought his blessing, and also his pardon, for having failed to serve him for nearly three months during her attendance upon her cousin Elisabeth. Though She had been guilty of no fault, nor even of an imperfection in thus devotedly fulfilling the will of God in conformity with the wishes of her spouse, yet, by this courteous and endearing act of humility, She wanted to repay her husband for the want of her consoling companionship. The holy Joseph answered that as he now again saw Her, and again enjoyed her delightful presence, he was relieved of the pain caused by her absence. In the course of a few days they announced the day of their departure. Thereupon the princess Mary took leave of the priest Zacharias. As he had already been enlightened by the Lord concerning the dignity of the Virgin Mother, he addressed Her with the greatest reverence as the living sanctuary of the Divinity and humanity of the eternal Word. "My Mistress," he said, "praise and bless eternally thy Maker, who in his infinite mercy has chosen Thee among all his creatures as his Mother, as the sole Keeper of all his great blessings and sacraments. Be mindful of me, thy servant, before thy Lord and God, that He may lead me in peace through this exile to the security of the eternal peace which we hope for, and that through thee I may merit the vision of his Divinity, which is the glory of the saints. Remember also, O Lady, my house and family, and especially my Son John, and pray to the Most High for thy people."

    The whole household of Zacharias had been sanctified by the presence of most holy Mary and of the incarnate Word in her womb; all its inmates had been edified by her example, instructed by her conversations and teachings, and sweetly affected by her intercourse and modest behavior. While She had drawn toward Herself all the hearts of that happy family, She also merited and obtained for them from her most holy Son the plenitude of celestial gifts. Holy Joseph was held in high veneration by Zacharias, Elisabeth and John; for they had come to know his high dignity before he himself was yet aware of it, The blessed Patriarch, happy in his Treasure, the full value of which as yet he did not know, took leave of all and departed for Nazareth: what happened on the way I will narrate in the following chapter. But before they began their journey most holy Mary, on bended knees, besought saint Joseph to bless Her, as She was accustomed to do on such occasions, and after She had received his blessing, they betook themselves on their journey.

    (The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain.)

    For two reasons, my daughter, the divine effects wrought through me by my Son in saint John and Elisabeth were concealed, while those in Zacharias were manifest. First, because Elisabeth spoke out clearly in praise of the incarnate Word and of me; yet at the time it was not proper that either this mystery or my dignity should be openly known; the coming of the Messias was to be manifested by other more appropriate means. Secondly, not all hearts were so well prepared as that of Elisabeth for receiving such precious and unprecedented seed of divine knowledge, nor would they have welcomed such sacramental revelation with due reverence. On the other hand it was more becoming that Zacharias in his priestly dignity should proclaim what was then to be made known; for the beginnings of the heavenly light would be accepted more readily from him than from saint Elisabeth, especially while he was present. That which she said, was reserved to bring forth its effects in due time. Although the words of God have their own inherent force; yet the more sweet and acceptable manner of communicating with the ignorant and the unskilled in divine mysteries is by means of the priest.

    Likewise it was proper that the dignity and honor of the priesthood should receive its due; for the Most High holds the priests in such esteem, that if He finds them in the right disposition, He exalts them and fills them with his Spirit in order that the world may venerate them as his chosen and anointed ones. Moreover the wonders of the Lord run less risk in priests. even when they are more openly revealed to them, If they live up to their dignity, their works in comparison with those of the other creatures, are like those of the angels and of the seraphim. Their countenance should be resplendent, like that of Moses, when he came forth from converse with the Lord (Exod. 34, 29). At least they should deal with the rest of men in such a manner that they be honored and revered as next to God. I desire that thou understand, my dearest, that the Most High is greatly incensed against the world in this matter: as well against the priests as against laymen. Against the priests because, forgetting their exalted dignity, they debase themselves by a contemptible, degraded and scandalous life, giving bad example to the world by mixing up with it to the neglect of their sanctification. And against the laymen, because they act with a foolhardy presumption toward the anointed of the Lord, whom, though imperfect and blameless in their lives, they ought to honor and revere as taking the place of Christ, my most holy Son, on earth.

    On account of this reverence due to the priesthood my behavior toward saint Zacharias was different from that toward Elisabeth. For, although the Lord wished, that I should be the instrument, by which the gifts of the holy Spirit should be communicated to both; yet I saluted Elisabeth in such a manner, that I at the same time showed a certain authority, exerting my power over the original sin of her son; for at my words this sin was forgiven him, and both mother and son were filled with the Holy Ghost. As I had not contracted original sin and was exempt from it, I possessed dominion over it on this occasion: I commanded as the Mistress, who had triumphed over it by the help of the Lord (Gen. 3, 5), and who was no slave of it, as all the sons of Adam, who sinned in him (Rom. 5, 12). Therefore the Lord desires that, in order to free John from the slavery and chains of sin, I should command over it as one who never was subject to its bondage. I did not salute Zacharias in this authoritative way, but I prayed for him, observing the reverence and decorum due to his dignity and my modesty. I would not have commanded the tongue of the priest to be loosened, not even mentally and secretly, if the Most High had not enjoined it upon me, intimating at the same time, that the defect of speech hardly suited his office, for a priest should stand ready to serve and praise the Almighty with all his powers. In regard to the respect due to priests I will tell thee more on another occasion; let this suffice at present for the solution of thy doubt.

    But from my instruction today learn especially to seek direction in the way of virtue and of eternal life in all thy interactions with men, be they above or below thee in dignity. Imitate therein me and my cousin Elisabeth, with due discretion asking all to direct thee and guide thee; for in return for such humility the Lord will provide thee with secure counsel and divine light for exercising thy discreet and sincere love of virtue. Drive away, or do not allow thyself to be influenced by even the least breath of flattery and avoid the conversations which expose thee to it; for such deceitful pleasure darkens the light and perverts the unsuspecting mind. The Lord is so jealous of the souls especially beloved by Him, that He will immediately turn away from them if they find pleasure in the praises of men and seek to recompense themselves by their flatteries; since by this levity they become unworthy of his favors. It is not possible to unite in a soul the adulations of the world and the caresses of the Most High. For these latter are sincere, holy, pure, and lasting: they humiliate, cleanse, pacify and illumine the heart; while on the other hand the flatteries of creatures are vain, fleeting, deceitful, impure and false, issuing from the mouths of those who are all liars (Ps. 115, 11); and whatever is deceitful is a work of the enemy.


    Today's  Snippet  II: Vow of Religious Obedience - Canon law

    Religious obedience is that general submission which religious vow to God, and voluntarily promise to their superiors, in order to be directed by them in the ways of perfection according to the purpose and constitutions of their order. It consists, according to Lessius (De Justitia, II, xlvi, 37), in a man's allowing himself to be governed throughout his life by another for the sake of God. It is composed of three elements:
    • the sacrifice offered to God of his own independence in the generality of his actions, at least of such as are exterior;
    • the motive, namely, personal perfection, and, as a rule, also the performance of spiritual or corporal works of mercy and charity;
    • the express or implied contract with an order (formerly also with a person), which accepts the obligation to lead him to the end for which he accepts its laws and direction.
    Religious obedience, therefore, does not involve that extinction of all individuality, so often alleged against convents and the Church; nor is it unlimited, for it is not possible either physically or morally that a man should give himself up absolutely to the guidance of another. The choice of a superior, the object of obedience, the authority of the hierarchical Church, all exclude the idea of arbitrary rule. 

    The canonical rule of obedience

    The superiors

    By Divine law, religious persons are subject to the hierarchy of the Church; first to the pope, then to the bishops, unless exempted by the pope from episcopal jurisdiction. This hierarchy was instituted by Christ in order to direct the faithful not only in the way of salvation, but also in Christian perfection. The vow of obedience in the institutes approved by the Holy See is held more and more to be made equally to the pope, who communicates his authority to the Roman congregations entrusted with the direction of religious orders. The superiors of the different orders, when they are clerics and exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, similarly receive a part of this authority and every one who is placed at the head of a community is invested with the domestic authority necessary for its good government; the vow by which the religious offers to God the obedience which he promises to his superiors confirms and defines this authority. But the right to demand obedience in virtue of the vow does not necessarily belong to all superiors; it is ordinarily reserved to the head of the community; and in order to enforce the obligation, it is necessary that the superior should make known his intention to bind the conscience; in certain orders such expressions as "I will", "I command", have not such binding force. The instructions of the Holy See require that the power of binding the conscience by command shall be employed with the utmost prudence and discretion.

    The limits of the obligation

    The commands of superiors do not extend to what concerns the inward motion of the will. Such at least is the teaching of St. Thomas (II-II.106.5 and II-II.186.2). Obedience is not vowed absolutely, and without limit, but according to the rule of each order, for a superior cannot command anything foreign to, or outside, the rule (except in so far as he may grant dispensations from the rule). No appeal lies from his order, that is to say, the obligation of obedience is not suspended by any appeal to higher authority; but the inferior has always the right of extra-judicial recourse to a higher authority in the order or to the Holy See. 

    The moral significance

    The religious is bound morally to obey on all occasions when he is bound canonically, and whenever his disobedience would offend against the law of charity, as for instance by bringing discord into the community. By reason of the vow of obedience and of the religious profession a deliberate act of obedience and submission adds the merit of an act of the virtue of religion to the other merits of the act. This extends even to the obedience of a counsel which goes beyond matters of regular observance, and is also limited by the prescriptions of higher laws whether human or Divine. 

    The foundation


    The evangelical foundation of religious obedience is first of all found in the perfect accord of that obedience with the spirit of the Gospel. Freedom from ambition which leads a man to choose a position of inferiority, implies a spirit of humility which esteems others as superior, and willingly yields them the first place; the sacrifice of his own independence and his own will presupposes in a high degree that spirit of self-denial and mortification which keeps the passions under proper restraint; the readiness to accept a common rule and direction manifests a spirit of union and concord which generously adapts itself to the desires and tastes of others; eagerness to do the will of God in all things is a mark of the charity towards God which led Christ to say "I do always the things which please my Father" (John 7:29). And since the Church has invested superiors with her authority, religious obedience is supported by all those texts which recommend submission to lawful powers, and especially by the following: "He that heareth you, heareth me" (Luke 10:16). 


    Philosophically religious obedience is justified (a) by the experience of the mistakes and illusions to which a man relying on his own unaided opinions is liable. The religious proposes to rule his whole life by devotion to God and his neighbour; how shall he best realize this ideal? By regulating all his actions by his own judgment, or by choosing a prudent and enlightened guide who will give his advice without any consideration of himself? Is it not clear that the latter alternative shows a resolution more sincere, more generous, and at the same time more likely to lead to a successful issue? This obedience is justified also (b) by the help of example and counsel afforded by community life and the acceptance of a rule of conduct, the holiness of which is vouched for by the Church; (c) lastly, since the object of religious orders is not only the perfection of their members, but also the performance of spiritual and corporal works of mercy, they need a union of efforts which can only be assured by religious obedience, just as military obedience is indispensable for success in the operations of war. 

    Religious obedience never reduces a man to a state of passive inertness, it does not prevent the use of any faculty he may possess, but sanctifies the use of all. It does not forbid any initiative, but subjects it to a prudent control in order to preserve it from indiscretion and keep it in the line of true charity. A member of a religious order has often been compared to a dead body, but in truth nothing is killed by the religious vow by vanity and self-love and all their fatal opposition to the Divine will. If superiors and subjects have sometimes failed to understand the practice of religious obedience, if direction has sometimes been indiscreet, these are accidental imperfections from which human institution is not free. The unbounded zeal of men like St. Francis Xavier and other saints who loved their rule, the prominent part which religious have taken in the mission field, and their successes therein, at all times waged against the religious orders; all these things furnish the most eloquent testimony to the happy influence of religious obedience in developing the activity which it sanctifies. The expression "blind obedience" signifies not an unreasoning or unreasonable submission to authority, but a keen appreciation of the rights of authority, the reasonableness of submission, and blindness only to such selfish or worldly considerations as would lessen regard for authority. 

    At present, religious have taken a far greater part than formerly in civil and public life, personally fulfilling all the conditions required of citizens, in order to exercise their right of voting and other functions compatible with their profession. Obedience does not interfere with the proper exercise of such rights. No political system rejects the votes of persons in dependent positions, but all freely permit the use of any legitimate influence which corrects to some extent the vicious tendency of equalitarianism: the influence of religious superiors is limited to safeguarding the higher interests of religion. As to the functions to be fulfilled, the superior, by the very fact of permitting his subjects to undertake them, grants all the liberty that is required for their honourable fulfillment. 


    Though St. Paul and the other early hermits were not in a position to practice religious obedience, it was already manifested in the docility with which their imitators placed themselves under the guidance of some older man. St. Cyprian, in his letter "De habitu virginum", shows us that at Rome the virgins followed the direction of the older women. Obedience was then looked upon as sort of education, from which those were dispenses who were considered perfect and ripe for a solitary life. This idea is found also in the first chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict. St. Pachomius (A.D. 292-346) understanding the importance of obedience in community life made it the foundation of the religious life of the cenobites, preaching by his own example, and inculcating upon all superiors the necessity of a scrupulous observance of the rules of which they were the guardians. The monks (cf. Cassian, "Institutions") thus saw in perfect obedience an excellent application of their universal spirit of self-renunciation. Later, St. Bernard insisted on the complete suppression of self-will, i.e., of that will which sets itself in opposition to the designs of God and to all that is commanded or desired for the good of the community. The obedience of the Eastern monks was imperfect and defective by reason of the facility with which they changed from one superior or monastery to another. St. Benedict, in consequence, advancing a step farther, introduced a new rule binding his monks by a vow of stability. A certain choice of rules still existed, which seemed likely to be hurtful to the common life, for some monasteries had various sets of rules, each set having its own observants. The reforms in the Order of St. Benedict brought into existence monastic congregations known by the identity of their observances, and these were the forerunners of the mendicant orders with their rules which have become canonical laws. St. Thomas thus had before him all the material necessary to enable him to treat fully of the subject of religious obedience in his "Summa Theologica", in which he makes it clear that the vow of obedience is the chief of the vows of religion.


    • ST. THOMAS, Summa Theologica, II-II, QQ, 104 et 186; IDEM, Opusc. de perfect. vitae spirit., c.x., xii; IDEM, Summa contra Gentiles; see also the Commentaries of CAJETAN and BILLUART in the portion of the Summa Theol. citec above; BELLARMINE, Controv. de monachis, 1, 2, c. xxi: SUAREZ, De religione, tr. 7, X, and tr. 10, IV, c. xiii-xv; DE VALENTIA, In II-II, disp. 10, q. 4, De statu relig., punctum 1 and 2; ELLIOT, Life of Father Hecker (New York, 1896; French tr. by Klein); Maignen, Le P. Hecker est-il un saint? (Paris, 1898); LADEUZE, Etude sur le cenobitisme Pakhomien pendant le IVe siecle et la premiere moitie du cinquieme (Louvain, 1898); SCHIEWIETZ, Das morgenland. Monchtim (Mainz, 1894); HARNACK, Das Monchtum, sein Ideale und seine Gesch.
    • Vermeersch, Arthur. "Religious Obedience." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 12 Dec. 2012 <>.